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CORNELL 

UNIVERSITY 

LIBRARY 





THE GIFT OF 

ALFRED C. BARNES 

1899 



Cornell University Library 
BS2940.T5 R65 



Jesus problem: a restatement of the myth 




olin 



3 1924 029 296 147 




Cornell University 
Library 



The original of this book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 



http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924029296147 



THE JESUS PEOBLEM 



BY THE SAME AtJTHOE 



THE HISTORICAL JESUS : A Survey of Positions. 
CHRISTIANITY AND MYTHOLOGY. Second edition. 
PAGAN CHRISTS. Second edition. 

A SHORT HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY. Second 

edition. 

A SHORT HISTORY OF FREETHOUGHT. 2 vols. 
Third edition. 

RATIONALISM. 

THE DYNAMICS OF RELIGION. (Out'of print.) 

STUDIES IN RELIGIOUS FALLACY. (Out of print.) 

XETTERS ON REASONING. Second edition. 



THE JESUS PROBLEM 

A RESTATEMENT OE 
THE MYTH THEORY 



BY 

J. M. ROBERTSON, M.P. 



[issued for the rationalist press association, limited]" 



London : 

WATTS & CO., 

17 JOHNSON'S COURT, FLEET STREET, E.G. 4 

1917 



conteis:ts 



Prefatory Note ..... 

Chapter I.— THE APPROACH . 

Chapter II.— THE CENTRAL MYTH 
§ 1. The Ground of Conflict . 
§2. The Sacrificial Rite . 
§ 3. Contingent Elements 
§ 4. The Mock-King Ritual 
§ 5. Doctrinal Additions . 
§ 6. Minor Ritual and Myth Elements 
§7. The Cross .... 

§ 8. The Suffering Messiah 
§9. The Rock Tomb 
§ 10. The Resurrection 



Chapter III.— ROOTS OF THE MYTH 
§ 1. Historical Data 
§ 2. Prototypes .... 
§ 3. The Mystery-Drama . 

Chapter IV.— EVOLUTION OF THE CULT 
§ ] . The Primary Impulsion 
§ 2. The Silence of Josephus . 
§ 3. The Myth of the Twelve Apostles . 
§ 4. The Process of Propaganda 
§ 5. Real Determinants .... 



Chapter V.— ORGANIZATION AND ECONOMICS 
§ 1. The Economic Side ..... 
§ 2. Organization .... 

Chapter VI.— EARLY BOOK-MAKING . 

§1. The "Didach^" 

§ 2. The Apocalypse .... 

§3. Epistles 



PAGE 

vii 



24 
24 
31 
39 
50 
53 
57 
61 
64 
67 
70 

72 
72 
91 
96 

107 
107 
121 
126 
135 
148 

157 
157 
162 

170 
170 
173 
176 



vi CONTENTS 



PAGE 

Chaptek VII.— gospel- making 18^ 

§ 1. Tradition . 182 

§2. Schmiedel's Tests 188 

§3. Tendential Tests . 192 

§ 4. Historic Summary ........ 202 

Chapter VIII.— SUPPLEMENTARY MYTH . . 207 

§ L Myths of Healing ... ... 207 

§ 2. Birth Myths ' . .209 

§3. Minor Myths ... .... 217 

Chapter IX.— CONCLUSION 223 

Appendix A.— TRANSLATION OE "THE TEACHING OF THE 

TWELVE APOSTLES," WITH NOTES . . .235 

Appendix B.— THE MYTH OF SIMON MAGUS . 248 

Index . . 261 



PREFATORY NOTE 



Most of the propositions in mythology and anthropology 
in this book are founded on bodies of evidence given in 
the larger works of the author. It seemed fitting, there- 
fore, to refer to those works instead of repeating hundreds 
of references there given. Readers concerned to in- 
vestigate the issues are thus invited and enabled to do so. 
For brevity's sake, Christianity and Mythology is cited 
as CM. ; Pagan Christs as P.C. ; and the Short Histories 
of Christianity and Freethought as S.H.C. and S.H.F. 
respectively. In the first three cases the references are 
to the second editions ; in the last case, to the third. 
The Evolution of States is cited as E.S. Another work 
often referred to is Sir J. G. Frazer's great thesaurus, 
The Golden Bough, which is cited as G.B., the references 
being to the last edition. Other new references are given 
in the usual way. The Ecce Deus of Professor W. B. 
Smith is cited in the English edition. 

Passages in brackets, in unleaded type, may be passed 
at a first perusal by readers concerned mainly to follow 
the constructive theory. Such passages deal contro- 
versially with counter-polemic. 



THE JESUS PEOBLEM 



Chapter I 

THE APPROACH 

As was explained in the preamble to The Historical 
Jesus (1916), that work was offered as prolegomena to a 
concise restatement of the theory that the Gospel Jesus 
is a mythical construction. That theory had been dis- 
cursively expounded by the writer in two large volumes, 
Christianity and Mythology and Pagan Christs, 
and summarily in A Short History of Christianity, 
the argument in the two former combining a negative 
criticism of the New Testament narrative with an 
exposition of the myth-evidence. Criticism having in 
large part taken the form of a denial that the records 
were unhistorical, it was necessary to clear the ground 
by showing that all the various attempts of the past 
generation to find in the gospels a historical residuum 
have entirely failed to meet critical tests. Those attempts, 
conflicting as they do with each other, and collapsing as 
they do in themselves, give undesigned support to the 
conclusion that the gospel story is without historic basis. 
It remains to restate with equal brevity the myth- 
theory which, long ago propounded on a very narrow 
basis, has latterly been re-developed in the light of modem 
mythology and anthropology, and has in recent years 



THE JESUS PROBLEM 



found rapidly increasing acceptance. Inevitably the 
different lines of approach have involved varieties of 
speculation ; Professors Drews and W. B. Smith have 
ably and independently developed the theory in various 
ways ; and a conspectus and restatement has become 
necessary for the sake of the theory itself no less than 
for the sake of those readers who call for a condensed 
statement. 

This in turn is in itself tentative. If the progressive 
analysis of the subject matter from the point of view of 
its historicity has meant a century and a half of debate 
and an immense special literature, it is not to be supposed 
that the theory which negates the fundamental assump- 
tions of that literature can be fully developed and estab- 
lished in one lifetime, at the hands of a few writers. The 
problem " What really happened ? " is in fact a far wider 
one for the advocate of the myth-theory than for the 
critic who undertakes to extract a biography from the 
documents. In its first form, as propounded by Dupuis 
and Volney, the myth-theory was confined simply to 
certain parallelisms between Christian and Pagan myth, 
and to the astronomical basis of a number of these. From 
this standpoint the actual historic inception of the cult 
was little considered. Strauss, again, developed with 
great power and precision the view that most of the 
detail in the gospel narrative is myth construction on 
the lines of Jewish prophecy and dogma. But Strauss 
never fully accepted the myth-theory, having always 
assumed the existence of a teacher as a nucleus for the 
whole. As apart from the continuators of Dupuis and 
Volney, it was Bruno Bauer who, setting out with the 
purpose of extracting a biography from the gospels, 
and finding no standing ground, first propounded a myth- 
theory from that point of view. 



THE APPROACH 



His construction, being the substantially arbitrary 
one of a hypothetical evangelist who created a myth and 
thereby founded the cultus, naturally made no headway ; 
and its artificiality strengthened the hands of those who 
claimed to work inductively on the documents. It was 
by reason of a similar failure to find a historic footing 
where he had at first taken it for granted that the present 
writer was gradually led, on lines of comparative hierology 
and comparative mythology and anthropology, to the 
conception of the evolution of the Jesus -cult from the roots 
of a " pre-Christian " one. The fact that this view has 
been independently reached by such a student as Professor 
W. B. Smith, who approached the problem from within 
rather than by way of the comparative method, seems 
in itself a very important confirmation. 

What is now to be done is to revise the general theory 
in the light of further study as well as of the highly 
important expositions of it by Professor Smith and other 
scholars. An attempt is now definitely made not merely 
to combine concisely the evidence for a pre-Christian 
Jesus-cult, but to show how that historically grew into 
*' Christianity/' thus substituting a defensible historical 
view for a mythic narrative of beginnings. And this, 
of course, is a heavy undertaking. 

The question, ''What do you put in its place? " is 
often addressed to the destructive critic of a belief, not 
with any philosophic perception of the fact that com- 
plete removal is effected only by putting a tested or 
tenable judgment in place of an untested or untenable 
one, but with a sense of injury, as if a false belief were a 
personal possession, for the removal of which there must 
be " compensation." In point of fact, the destructive 
process is rarely attempted without a coincident process 
of substitution. Even to say that a particular text is 



THE JESUS PROBLEM 



spurious is to say that some one forged or inserted it 
where it is, for a purpose. That concept is " something 
in its place." Some Comtists, again, are wont to commit 
the contradiction of affirming that ''no belief is really 
destroyed without replacement," and, in the next breath, 
of condemning rationalists who '' destroy without 
replacing." Both propositions cannot stand. 

If it be meant merely to insist that explanation is 
replacement, and that explanation is a necessary part of 
a successful or complete process of destruction, the 
answer is that it is hardly possible even to attempt to 
cancel a belief without putting a different belief in its 
place ; and that it is nearly always by way of positing 
a new belief that an old one is assailed. The old charge 
against rationalism, of " destroying without building 
up," is historically quite false. Almost invariably, the 
innovator has offered a new doctrine or conception in 
place of the old. True, it might not be ostensibly an 
equivalent, for the believer who wanted an equivalent in 
kind. An exploded God-idea is not for me replaceable 
by another God-idea : the only rational " replacement " 
is a substitution of a reasoned for an authoritarian 
cosmology and ethic. But in the way of reasoned 
replacements the innovators have been only too quick, 
in general, to formulate new conceptions, new creeds. 
They have really been too eager to build afresh, and many 
untenable formulas and hypotheses are the consequences. 

These very attempts, naturally, are constantly made 
the objects of still more hasty counter-attack. Every 
form of the myth-theory with which I am acquainted, 
whatever its defects, has been the result of much labour, 
and even if astray can be fairly pronounced " hasty " 
only in the sense that it proves to be inadequate. It is 
not so with most of the counter-criticism. The reader 



THE APPROACH 



may rest assured that it is not possible for any exposition 
of the new theory to be as " hasty " as is usually its 
rejection.^ Professional theologians who cast that epithet 
are in general recognizably men who believed their 
hereditary creed before they were able to think, and have 
at no later stage made good the first inevitable omission. 
Myth-theories, sound or unsound, are the attempts of 
students who find . the record incredible as history to 
think out, in the light of the documents and of com- 
parative mythology and hierology, the process by which 
it came to be produced ; and even as all myth is but a 
form of traditionary error, so any attempt to trace its 
growth runs the risk of error. It is one thing to show, 
for instance, that the Pentateuch cannot have been 
written by " Moses," seen to be a non-historical figure : 
it is another thing to settle how the books were really 
made. In such cases, the " something in the place ".of 
the tradition is to be ascertained only after long and 
patient investigation and counter-criticism. So with the 
investigation of the fabulous history of early Rome. 
After several scholars had set forth grounded doubts, 
the problem was ably and systematically handled by the 
French freethinker Louis de Beaufort in 1738. Early 
in the nineteenth century, Niebuhr, confidently under- 
taking " with the help of God " to get at the truth, and 
falsely disparaging Beaufort's work as wholly '' sceptical," 
effected a reconstruction which has since been found to 
be in large measure unsound, though long acquiesced in 
by English students.^ In such matters there is really 
no finality. If well-documented history must in every 

^ The charge of haste is posited as a preliminary to criticism by the 
Rev. Dr. Thorburn in his work on The Mythical Interpretation of the 
Gospels. Some examples of Dr. Thorbum's own haste will be found 
in the following pages. 

2 Twenty years ago a French scholar gently included me in this 
reproach. 



THE JESUS PROBLEM 



age be rewritten, no less inevitable is the re-writing of 
that which is reached only by processes of inference. 
And the gospel problem is the hardest of all. Still more 
than in the case of the Pentateuch problem, many re- 
visions will probably be needed before a generally satis- 
factory solution is reached. 

There is nothing for it but to trace and retrace, consider 
and reconsider, the inferrible historic process. Met as 
he is by alternate charges of reckless iconoclasm and 
" hasty " construction, the proper course for the holder 
of the myth-theory is to repeat with dispassionate vigilance 
both of his processes — to show first that the progressive 
effort to extract from the gospels a tenable biography 
has «nded in complete critical collapse, revealing only 
a tissue of myth ; and then to attempt to indicate how 
the pseudo-history came to be compiled : in other words, 
how the myth arose. Such has been my procedure in 
the preceding volume and in this. 

It may of course be argued that the previous negative 
criticism of the gospel record is indecisive; that the 
avowal of Loisy : *' If the trial and condemnation of 
Jesus, as pretended Messiah, could be put in doubt, we 
should have no ground for affirming the existence of the 
Christ," does not commit other inquirers, or that the 
historicity of the trial story has not really been exploded ; 
that the nullity of the alleged Evangel has not been estab- 
lished; or that the complete destruction of previous 
biographical theories claimed by Schweitzer for himself 
and Wrede has not been accomplished. The answer is 
that these issues are not re-opened in the following 
chapters. They were carefully handled in the previous 
volume, to which I have seen no attempt at a compre- 
hensive and reasoned answer. 



THE APPROACH 



[The latest attack I have seen comes from a former 
antagonist, who appears to lay his main complaint 
against the book on the ground that it " omits to notice 
the theory of the synoptic problem which appears in every 
modern text-book," that is, " the two-documents hypo- 
thesis." And there emerges this indictment : — 

As the theory has a vital bearing on the relative values 
of different strata of tradition, Mr. Robertson cannot 
afford to ignore it. If we apply to himself the crude 
principle he applies to Paul and the evangelists, to wit, 
that if they don't mention a thing they don't know it, 
we must assume that Mr. Robertson is still ignorant of 
the very elements of the problem he is professing to 
solve. Since he has no clear or tenable view of the 
documents and their relations to one another, he ob- 
viously cannot answer the historical questions they 
raise. ^ . . . Presumably he omits to mention it because 
he does not see its significance.^ 

Before coming to the main matter, it is necessary to 
elucidate the charge as to a " crude principle " applied 
to Paul and the evangelists. The " principle " really 
applied was this, that if *' Paul " in all his writings, 
apart from two interpolated passages, shows no real 
knowledge whatever of the gospels, and no knowledge 
whatever either of the life or the teachings of Jesus as 
there recorded, we are compelled to infer either that 
these details were not in any form known to Paul, or that, 
if he knew them, he did not believe them. It is not a 
matter of his not knowing " a thing " : that is the 
sophism of the critic ; it is a matter of his not knowing 
anything on the subject. And so with the synoptics 
and the fourth gospel. When one side relates something 
vital to the record, of which the other side shows no 
knowledge whatever ^ — as, for instance, great miracles — 
we are bound to infer that the silent side, when it is the 
earlier record, either did not know or did not believe 

1 I omit personalities. 

2 Art. by H. G. Wood in The Cambridge Magazine^ Jan. 1917. 

3 Cp. H.J, 128-139. 



8 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

the story. Or, again, when John alleges that the dis- 
ciples baptized freely and the synoptics make no mention 
of it, it is clear that we cannot suppose them, in the 
alleged circumstances, to have been ignorant of such a 
fact; while, if they are supposed to have known it and 
yet to have kept silence, their credit as historians is gravely 
shaken. The '' principle," in fact, is that of critical 
common-sense ; and the critic's version of it is a forensic 
perversion. 

On the next issue, it is perhaps well to explain to the 
lay reader that the " two -documents hypothesis " is 
simply what Schmiedel — with a very justifiable implica- 
tion — ^named '' the so-called theory of two sources," a 
mere aspect of '' the borrowing hypothesis " which con- 
stitutes the main substance of the bulk of the docu- 
mentary discussion of the gospels in the last century, 
and wMch is simply the most obvious way of attempting 
to explain the documentary phenomena. It dates from 
Papias. As the critic asseverates, it is the theory of the 
text-books in general. And for the main purposes of 
historic comprehension, it is neither here nor there. 
The theory of two sources cannot possibly cover all the 
data, even from the biographical point of view. The 
effect of SchmiedeFs article — a model of critical honesty 
and general good sense which his successors might use- 
fully strive to copy in those regards — ^is to show that the 
hypothesis is quite inadequate even as a documentary 
theory; and from the point of view of the rational 
student it is simply neutral to the vital question. What 
really did happen, in the main? He who has realized 
that the Entry, the Betrayal, the Last Supper, the 
Agony, the Trials, and the Crucifixion, are all as mythical 
as the Resurrection, is not at that point concerned with the 
dispute as to priority among the gospels, or any sections 
of them. No documentary hypothesis can possibly make 
the myth true. 

At the vital point, in fact, the two -documents hypothesis 
is not even ostensibly applicable : the synoptic narrative 
is one primary narrative, subjected to minor modifications. 
It is admitted by Harnack to have been absent from 
** Q," the Logoi '' source " held to have been drawn upon 



THE APPROACH 



by Matthew and Luke. And that one narrative, as I 
have argued, is not in origin a '' gospel " narrative at 
all, but the simple transcript of a mystery-drama, with 
almost the minimum of necessary narrative insertion. 
If the exegete could bring himself to contemplate ration- 
ally my hypothesis, he might find his documentary labours 
lightened.^ 

It is doubtless true that the determination of the 
earher as against the later form of a minor narrative 
episode, or of a teaching, is often essential to the framing 
of a true notion as to its mode of entrance ; and such 
determination I have attempted many times. But the 
notion that historicity is a matter of priority of documents 
is, as Schmiedel sees, the fallacy of fallacies. Prisoned 
in that presupposition, exegetes defending the record 
achieve inevitably the very failure they impute : they 
are '' ignorant of the very elements of the problem they 
are professing to solve "^ — that is, the problem of what 
really happened. They cannot realize the conditions 
under which the gospels were compUed. They construct 
what they think a " clear or tenable " view of the docu- 
ments by the process of evading the considerations 
which make it ^mtenable or inadequate, and then demand 
that their documentary formula shall be met by one 
in pari materia. The answer to them is that their 
psychological as well as their historical assumptions are 
false. Things did not happen in that way. And two 
versions of a palpable myth do not make for its historicity. 
There are two or more versions of most myths. 

The indictment before us, in short, is an illustration 
of the mode of theological fence discussed above. You 
undertake to show that the most alert presentments of a 
given historical conception fail to stand critical tests, 
and you are met with the reply : '' We are not concerned 
to discuss the presentments you deal with, which are 
not generally accepted : we demand that you discuss 

^ In the course of a second attack, the critic avows that he knows of 
*' no theory of gospel- origins, living or dead," which concedes that the 
tragedy-story was added to the gospels as a separate block. Reminded 
that the school of B. Weiss make their " Primitive Gospel " end before 
the tragedy, he replies in a third attack that that school is '* obsolete " 
■ — i. e. neither living nor dead ? 



10 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

t ■ — — — — — 

instead the documentary theory which in those present- 
ments is treated as obsolete. If you do not do this, you 
show you are incompetent." When on the other hand 
the critical significance of an older theory is indicated, 
the reply is made that that theory is " obsolete." One 
theory is too new, another is too old, for discussion. 
All the while, the theory founded-on for the defence is 
really the oldest of all. It was in fact the obvious in- 
adequacy of the familiar documentary hypothesis that 
dictated our discussion of more up-to-date theories, as 
it had elicited these. If our exegete's favourite hypo- 
thesis had had any power of satisfjdng independent 
students, we should not have had such treatises as those 
of the Rev. Dr. Wright and Dr. Flinders Petrie, or the 
searching analysis and commentary of M. Loisy, to say 
nothing of the vigorous Dr. Blass. 

In dealing with such writers, and particularly in 
following the '' real " procedure of M. Loisy on the main 
issues of historical fact, I took what seemed to me the 
candid controversial course. To resort instead to a 
mere exposure of the obvious insufficiency of the " two- 
do.cuments hypothesis ' ' would be like arguing as if 
Genesis were the only alternative to the Darwinian theory. 
Dr. Wright's " oral hypothesis " is a vivid and interesting 
revival of what, as I pointed out, had long ago been the 
" predominant " view.^ Our exegete nevertheless affirms 
that I regard it "as something new in England." To 
the lay reader I would again explain tjhe situation thus 
handled. Theological discussion on the gospels has 
moved in cycles, by reason of the invariable presupposition 
as to historicity, which was a main factor in the partial 
failure of the mythical theory as introduced by Strauss. 
As I expressly stated, the oral hypothesis was before 
Strauss " well established." Then ensued the age-long 
discussion of documentary hypotheses. At the close of 
the nineteenth century we find Schmiedel saying : 

Lastly, scholars are also beginning to remember that the 
evangelists did not need to draw their material from books 
alone, but that from youth up they were acquainted 

^ It seems to have been the view of Mr. Cassels. 



THE APPROACH 11 



with it from oral narration and could easily commit 
it to writing precisely in this form in either case — whether 
they had it before them in no written form, or whether 
they had it in different written form. In this matter, 
again, we are beginning to be on our guard against the 
error of supposing that in the synoptical problem we have 
to reckon merely with given quantities, or with such as 
can be easily ascertained.^ 

If I had written that, I should doubtless be told that 
I regarded the oral hypothesis as " new." Dr. Schmiedel, 
it is to be hoped, may escape the aspersive method of my 
critic. In point of fact, a return to the oral hypothesis 
was inevitable in view of the insufficiency of the other. 
Unfortunately it has been made on the old and fatal 
presupposition of the historicity of the myth ; but, as 
made by Dr. Wright, it seemed well worth critical con- 
sideration. My critic disparages that and other pro- 
paganda as '' commanding no large measure of assent 
anywhere." My testimony, I fear, will not help Dr. 
Wright ; but I will say that I found him an honest and 
extremely interesting writer, admirably free from theo- 
logical malice, and above all exhibiting a thoroughly 
independent hold of his thesis. What amount of assent 
he has secured is an irrelevant issue. I can only say that 
I found him very readable. The scholarly and intel- 
lectual status of Dr. Flinders Petrie, again, is such as 
perhaps to make it unnecessary to say — as against 
similar disparagement in his case — that a thesis seriously 
and vigorously embraced by him as superseding the 
older documentary and oral hypotheses alike, seemed to 
me well entitled to consideration.] 

The examination of the recent positions of independent 
writers seeking to construct a documentary theory has, 
I think, sufficed to safeguard the honest lay student of 
the myth-theory against the kind of spurious rebuttal 
set up by those who, themselves innocent of all original 
research, pretend that the fundamental historicity of 

^ Art. Gospels in Encyc. Bibl., ii, col. 1869. 



12 THE JESUS PROBLEM 



the gospels is established by a "consensus of scholar- 
ship." There is no consensus of scholarship. I observe 
that M. Loisy, to whom I devoted special study, is 
joumahstically disparaged by the Very Rev. Dean Inge. 
That disparagement — which, I also observe, I have 
the undeserved honour to share — will not impose upon 
serious students, who will realize that Dean Inge, himself 
transparently unorthodox, has no resource in such matters 
but to disparage aU who labour with any measure of 
rational purpose to put concrete conclusions where church 
dignitaries inevitably prefer to maintain rhetorical 
mystification. For the purposes of serious students, 
M. Loisy is an important investigator, Dean Inge a 
negligible essayist. 

It is true that one of the positions I discussed — that of 
the school of Weiss — is not '' new." But in that case the 
reason for selection was not merely that it was one of 
the efforts to reach something less neutral than the 
'' two-documents hypothesis," but that it is in substance 
the position of some of the most recent and most virulent 
English critics of the myth-theory. It is in fact the gist 
of the polemic of Dr. Conybeare. I have shown, accord- 
ingly, that the thesis of a primary biography is psycho- 
logically absurd in itself ; and, further, that like all the 
other documentary hypotheses it has been left high and 
dry by the latest German exegetes, who, expressly assum- 
ing the historicity of a Jesus, and foiuiding on the gospels 
for their case, reduce these to a minimum of tradition 
at which M. Loisy must stand aghast. It is in England, 
in short, that the biographical school, as represented by 
Dean Inge and Dr. Conybeare, is seen to be most entirely 
out of touch with the movement of rational criticism. 

It is in England, too, that we find the most uncritical 
reliance put upon the '' impression of a personality " 



THE APPROACH 13 



said to be set up by the gospels. This argument is still 
used without any attempt at psychological self -analysis, 
any effort to find out what an impression is worth. A 
generation or two ago, exactly the same position was 
taken up in regard to the fourth gospel : both the Arnolds, 
for instance, were confident that the vision of Jesus there 
given was peculiarly real. Critical study has since forced 
all save the sworn traditionalists and the mere com- 
promisers to the conclusion that it cannot be real if there 
is any substantial truth in the presentment of the synop- 
tics. Slowly it has been realized that the methods which 
produce a vivid impression of " personality " are methods 
open to fictive art, and differ only in detail from the 
methods of the Bhagavat Gita or the methods of Homer. 
If a strong impression of a personality be a certificate of 
historicity, what of Zeus and Here, Athene and Achilles, 
Ulysses and Nestor ? Most critics who handle the 
problem seem to work in vacuo, without regard to the 
phenomena and the machinery of fictive literature in 
general, even when t];iey are moved to accept a hypothesis 
of fiction. 

The vision presented in the fourth gospel is prima facie 
more lifelike than that of the synoptics, because its main 
author is more of an artist than his predecessors. It 
has been justly affirmed by Professor W. B. Smith that 

The received notion that in the early Marcan narratives 
the Jesus is distinctly human, and that the process of 
deification is fulfilled in John, is precisely the reverse of 
the truth. In Mark there is reaUy no man at all : the 
Jesus is God, or at least essentially divine, throughout. 
He wears only a transparent garment of flesh. Mark 
historizes only. Matthew also historizes and faintly 
humanizes. Luke more strongly humanizes ; while John 
not only humanizes but begins to sentimentalized 

1 Ecce Deu8, p. 93. 



14 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

Contemporary Grerman scholars, such as Wellhausen, 
working on the synoptics, begin uneasily to note the lack 
of reality and verisimilitude in the presentment there 
given, avowing a deficit of biographical quality where 
English amateurs still heedlessly affirm a veridical 
naivete. Wellhausen, tacitly clinging to the biographical 
assumption, gives up section after section of Mark, where 
our amateurs primitively acclaim as genuine biographic 
detail such an item as " asleep on the cushion " (Mk. iv, 
38). Following another will-o'-the-wisp, Wellhausen is 
moved to claim the episode of the widow's mite (Lk. xxi, 
1-4) as having biograpliical flavour, as if the admitted 
inventor of other Lucan episodes could not have doctrin- 
ally framed this. There is no science in such tentatives. 
They do but tell of a search for a subjective basis of 
belief when criticism has dissolved the objective bases 
of the old assumption. 

When it is pretended, as by Dr. Conybeare, that the 
mythical theory rests on and grows solely out of the 
supematuralist details in the gospel story, the case is 
simply falsified. This writer never seems to master his 
subject matter. Before Strauss, as by Strauss, the myth- 
theory was widely applied to non-supernatural matter; 
and to surmise a historical Jesus behind those details 
has been the first step in all odern inquiry. The asser- 
tion that the rejection of the historicity of Jesus " is 
not really the final conclusion of their [myth-theorists'] 
researches, but an initial unproved assumption " ^ is 
categorically false. Professor Smith's biograpliical state- 
ment negates it.^ As I have repeatedly stated, I began 
without misgivings by assuming a historical Jesus, and 
sought historically to trace him, regarding the birth myth 
and the others as mere accretions. But the very first 

1 Historical Christ, p. 182. ^ ^cce Dens, pref. p. ix. 



THE APPROACH 15 



step in the strictly historical inquiry revealed difficulties 
which the biographical school and the traditionalists alike 
had simply never faced. The questions whether Jesus 
was " of Nazareth," " Nazarene " in that sense, or " the 
Nazarite " ; and why, if he was either of these, he was 
never so named in the epistles, stood in the very front 
of the problem, wholly unregarded by those who profess 
to trace a historical Jesus by historical method. The 
problem of " the twelve " is to this day passed with equal 
heedlessness by critics professing to work on historico- 
critical lines ; and the question of the authenticity of 
the teachings is no more scientifically met. It was 
because at every step the effort to find historical founda- 
tion failed utterly that after years of investigation I 
sought and found in a thorough application of the myth- 
theory the solution of the enigma. Invariably that gives 
light where the historical assumption yields darkness. 

It is thoroughly characteristic of the spirit in which 
some champions of the biographical view work that, in 
sequel to the falsification of the problem just noted, we 
have from them the plea that if we give up the historicity 
of Jesus, we must give up that of Solon and Pythagoras ; 
and that " obviously Jesus has a far larger chance to have 
really existed than Solon." ^ Such a use of the con- 
ception of " chance " reveals the kind of dialectic we are 
dealing with. One recalls Newman's derision of the 
Paleyan position that the '' chances " were in favour of 
there being a God. "If we deny aU authenticity to 
Jesus's teaching," we are asked, "what of Solon's 
traditional lore?" Well, what of it? Is it to be 
authenticated by the threat that it must go if we deny 
that the Sermon on the Mount is a sermon at all ? The 
fragments of Solon's verse purport to have been written 

^ Dr. Conybeare, The Historical Christ, p. 5. 



16 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

by him : have we anything purporting to have been 
written by Jesus ? The very fact that we have only 
fragments of Solon is in itself an argument in favour of 
their genuineness : to Jesus any evangelist could ascribe 
any sayings at will.^ 

As usual, the critic falsifies the debate, affirming that 
" the stories of Plutarch about him [Solon] are, as Grote 
says, ' contradictory as well as apocryphal.' " What 
Grote reaUy says ^ is that Plutarch's stories '' as to the 
way in which Salamis was recovered are contradictory as 
well as apocryphal." He makes no such assertion as to 
the stories of Solon's life in general, though, like every 
critical historian, hQ recognizes that many things were 
ultimately ascribed to Solon which belong to later times. ^ 
But the genuine fragments of Solon's verse and laws are 
sound historical material. As Meyer claims,^ the Archon 
list is as valid as the Roman Fasti. It is precisely because 
of the solid elements in the record that Solon stands as a 
historic figure, while Lycurgus is given up as a deity 
Evemerized.^ On the principles of Dr. Conybeare, we 
must give up Solon because we give up Lycurgus, or 
accept Lykurgos if we accept Solon. Historical criticism 
does no such thing. It decides the cases on their merits 
by critical tests, and finds the fact of a Solonian legisla- 
tion historically as certain as the Lycurgean is fabulous. 
The item that Solon's family claimed to be descended 
from Poseidon is no ground for doubting the historicity 
of Solon, because such claims were normal in early 
Greece. Is it pretended that claims to be the Son of God 
were normal in later Jewry ? 

The device of saying that we must accept the historicity 

1 H.J, 112, 113, 128, 157 sq., 177 sq. > 

2 Hist, of Greece, 10 vol. ed. 1888, ii, 462. s j^ p ^qO. 

* Oeach. des Alterthums, ii (1893), 649. See the context for the 
historic basis in general. ^ Id. 427, 664. 



THE APPROACH 17 



of Jesus if we accept that of Solon is merely a new dressing 
of the old claim that we must believe in the resurrection 
if we believe in the assassination of Csesar. Both theses 
rest on spurious analogies ; and both alike defeat them- 
selves, the older by carrying the implication that the 
prodigies at Caesar's death are as historical as the assassina- 
tion ; the newer by involving the consequence that Solon 
accredits not only Lycurgus but Herakles and Dionysos, 
Ulysses and Achilles. 

The argument from Pythagoras is a still more fatal 
device.^ Of him ''it is no easy task to give an account 
that can claim to be regarded as history/' ^ And "of 
the opinions of Pythagoras we know even less than of his 
life." 2 It is held to be certain that he taught the doctrine 
of transmigration and originated certain propositions in 
mathematics ; but whUe the mathematical element has 
no analogue in the gospels, the residual view of Pythagoras 
as vending in religion only a "thoroughly primitive" 
set of taboos ® would sanction, by analogy, the view that 
the real Jesus was the Talmudic Ben Pandira, who dates 
about 100 B.C., and was reputed a worker of wonders by 
sorcery. This is a sufficiently lame and impotent con- 
clusion from a polemic in favour of the gospel Jesus, 
whom it leaves, in effect, a myth, as the myth-theory 
maintains. As for ApoUonius of Tyana, one holds him 
historical * just because his myth-laden story is finally 
intelligible as history, which is precisely what the Jesus 
story is not. 

This said, The Historical Jesus may be left, as it 
is, open to critical refutation. The present volume is 

^ Burnet, Early Greek Phdlosophy, 2nd ed. p. 91. Cp. 93 sq. 

2 Id. p, 100. Cp. 106-7, 123. 8 2^^ p^ iqS. Cp. 109. 

* P.C. 274 sq. A proselytizing Catholic Professor in Glasgow has 
represented me as denying the historicity of ApoUonius, having reached 
that opinion by intuition. 




18 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

theoretically constructive, and does not unnecessarily 
return upon the other. It is open in its turn to refutative 
criticism. 

That description, it may be remarked, would not be 
accorded by me to a mere asseveration that there '' must " 
be a historical basis for the gospels in a person answering 
broadly to the Gospel Jesus. Any one who confidently 
holds such a view need hardly trouble himself with the 
present thesis at all : and for me any one who affects to 
dispose of the issue by merely fulminating the '' must " 
is simply begging the question. Those who, on the 
other hand, do but lean instinctively to such a belief may 
be respectfully invited to reconsider it in the light of all 
hierology. That there " must " be a historic process of 
causation behind every cult is a truism : it does not in the 
least follow that the historic basis must be the historicity 
of the God or Demigod round whose name the cult centres. 

Many Saviour na es have been the centres of cults, 
in the ancient world as in the modern. There were 
extensive and long-lived worships of Herakles, Dionysos, 
Osiris, Attis, Adonis, in addition to the age-long cults of 
the '' Supreme " Gods. Is it claimed -that there '' must " 
have been a historical Herakles, or Dionysos, or Adonis ? 
If so, is it further contended that there must have been 
a historical Jehovah, a Jove, a Cybele, a Juno, a Venus ? 
If the Father-Gods and Mother-Gods could be evolved 
by protracted mythopoeia, why not the Son-Gods ? 

It is perfectly true, as was urged by the late Sir Alfred 
LyaU, that in India and elsewhere distinguished men may 
to this day be deified; that ancestor- worship played a 
great part in God-making ; and that tribal Gods are 
in many cases probably evolved from distinguished chiefs. 
But such cases reaUy defeat the inference drawn from 
them. Such God-making can in no instance be shown 



THE APPROACH 19 



ever to have set up what can reasonably be termed a 
world-religion. The world-religions are the product of 
a far more protracted and complex causation. They 
grow from far further-reaching roots. Above aU, they 
have never grown up without the services either of a 
numerous priesthood or of Sacred Books, or of both. 

Is it then contended that a Sacred Book must represent 
the originative teaching of a real person and his disciples ? 
It may or may not ; but what does not at all follow is 
that the personality deified or extoUed in the Sacred Book 
was real. Mohammed was a real person ; he made no 
claim to deity : he acclaimed an established God. The 
names of Zoroaster and Buddha were probably not those 
ofj;eal persons^: the first figures as a cult-building priest ; 
the second as a Teacher, enshrined from the first in a 
luxuriant myth, whence his practical deification. In 
both cases the specific centre of the religion is the Book 
or Books ; and it is beyond question that in both cases 
many hands wrought on thesQ. To say that only a 
primary personality of abnormal greatness could have 
inspired the writing of the books is really equivalent to 
saying that there must have been a historical Jehovah 
to account for the Old Testament, and a historical Allah 
to account for the Koran. Let it be freely granted that ■ 
. the tvriters of Sacred Books were in many cases remarkable 
personalities. That is a totally different proposition 
from the one we are considering. 

The claim that the gospels could only have originated 
round the memory of an inspiring and love-creating 
personality is in effect an evasion of the multitudinous 
facts of hierology. The European who sees nothing in 
the fact that the mythic Krishna is loved by millions of 
Hindoos ; that in ages of antiquity millions of worshippers 
were absorbed in the love of Dionysos, mutilated them-j 



20 THE JESUS PEOBLEM 

, selves for Attis, and wept for Adonis, is not really ready 
for a verdict on what " must " have been as regards the 
i building up of any cult. Are the Psalms, once more, a 
' testimony to the historicity of Jehovah, or is the hymn 
of Hippolytos to Artemis, in Euripides, a proof of any- 
thing but that men can love an imagination ? 

The special claim for a historical Jesus arises out of the 
' very fact that Jesus alone among the Saviour Gods of 
.; antiquity (Buddha beiag excluded from that category) is 
J celebrated in a set of Sacred Books in which he figures as 
at once a Sacrificed God and a Teaching God.^ But the 
' worships of the Saviours Dionysos and Herakles and 
Adonis, without Sacred Books (apart from temple liturgies), 
were as confident as the worship of Jesus. Is the pro- 
duction of Sacred Books in itself any more of a testimony 
'■^ to a Saviour God's human actuality than the worship with 
which they are associated ? 

Historically speaking, the emergence of Sacred Books 

as accompaniments of a popular cultus is a result of 

; special culture conditions. In the case of Judaism these 

lihave never been scientifically traced, by reason of the 

i presuppositions of the past.^ But we can trace later 

I cases. Early Christism founded primarily on the Sacred 

V Books of Judaism ; and it needed to produce books of its 

/ own if it was to survive as against the overshadowing 

; parent cult. Save for these books, Christism would have 

* j disappeared as did Mithraism, of which the scanty hieratic 

I literature remained occult, liturgical, unpopular, where 

! Christism was committed to publicity by the Jewish lead. 

' To make of Sacred Books produced imder those special 

> conditions a special argument for the historicity of their 

1 The Bhagavat Gita, which glorifies Krishna, is late relatively to the 
cult. 

2 Cp. Gunkel, Zum religionageschichtlichen Veratdndnia des N T 
1903, p. 5«g. ' '' 



t:^e approach 21 



1 contents, or of their narrative groundwork, is to embrace 

Hhe fallacy of the single instance. And when the contents 

^utterly fail to sustain the tests of rational documentary 

1 criticism, to fall back on a "must" for certification of 

/ the actuality of J^he figure they deify is merely to renounce 

j critical reason/v ( - - ^^ '-'•'> ■>■ -.y • ^ ^ ; .^',' -'-^ 

The rational problem is to account historically for the 

projection as a whole, to explain the main features and 

as many minor details as may be, as we explain the 

'' personality " and the myth of Herakles or Samson 

or Adonis, the doctrines and fictions of the Books of 

Ruth and Esther, the religions of Krishna and Mithra 

and Quetzalcoatl. We are now compendiously to make 

the attempt. 

M. Loisy has declared ^ that " One can explain to ' 
oneself Jesus : one cannot explain to oneself those who 
invented him." In the previous volume it has been^ 
contended that M. Loisy has decisively failed to '' explain 
Jesus " as a possible person : in this we essay to explain / 
'' those who invented him." M. Loisy is an illustrious ' 
New-Testament scholar : he is not a mythologist or a 
comparative hierologist. It is very likely that he would 
find it difficult to explain to himself those who invented 
Tezcatlipoca ; but it would hardly follow that Tezcatlipoca 
was not invented. In point of fact, a large portion of 
M. Loisy's own important critical performance consists 
precisely in explaining away as inventions a multitude 
of items in the gospel narrative. He can understand' 
invention of many parts, and admits that unless removed 
they make an incongruous whole. There is really no 
more difficulty in explaining the other parts as similar 
inventions than in explaining these. Thus the alleged 
difficulty is illusory. 

^ Apropos d^histoire des religions, p. 290. 



22 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

The occupation of '' explaining to oneself " imaginary- 
beings has been the occupation of theologians through 
whole millenniums. There can still be foimd even a 
hierologist or two who believe in the historicity of 
Krishna; as the judicious Mosheim in the eighteenth 
century confidently believed in the historicity of Mercury 
and Mithra. Those — and they are many — who are now 
content to see myth in the figures of Mithra and Krishna, 
with or without the nimbus of Sacred Books, may on 
that score consent to consider the thesis of this volume. 

It will be no adequate answer to that to say, as will 
doubtless be said, that the outline of the evolution of the 
myth is unsatisfying. In the very nature of the case, 
the connections of the data must be speculative. It 
may well be that those here attempted — some of them 
modifications of previous theories — will have to be at 
various points reshaped ; and I invite the reader to weigh 
carefully the views of Professors Drews and Smith where 
I diverge from them. The complete establishment of 
a historical construction will be a long and difficult task. 
But in its least satisfying aspect the myth-theory is a 
scientific substitution for what is wholly ^satisfying — 
the entirely unhistorical construction furnished by the 
gospels. 

That has been under revision for a hundred and fifty 
years, with an outlay of labour that is appalling to think 
of, in view of the utter futility of the search — or, let us 
say, the labour in proportion to the result, for toil even 
upon false clues has yielded some knowledge that avails 
for rectification. But the labour has meant a steadily 
dwindling confidence in a dwindling residuum of supposed 
fact ; though every shortening of the line of defence has 
evoked furious outcry from the unthinking faithful. 
The first pious framers of " harmonies " of the gospels 



THE APPROACH 23 



were indignantly told by the more stupid pious that there 
was no strife to harmonize : the Schmiedels and Loisys 
of to-day, striving their hardest to save something by 
rational methods from the rational advance, are execrated 
by those who believe more than they. The more in- 
structed believers are as warm in their resentment of the 
latest and coolest negative criticism as were their fathers 
towards the contemptuous exposure of the contradictions 
of *' inspiration." Anger, it would seem, always leaps to 
the help of shaken confidence. Let the believer perpend. 
It is not orthodoxy that is to-day fighting the, case of 
the historicity of Jesus. Orthodoxy is committed to the 
miraculous, to Revelation, to the Incarnation, the Virgin 
Birth, the Resurrection, and, if it would be consistent, 
to the Ascension, which is on the same plane of belief. 
Upon such assumptions, there can be no critical defence 
worthy of the name. The defence is being conducted 
^ mainly by the avowed or non-avowed Neo -Unitarians of 
the various churches and countries ; and these are simply 
standing either at the position taken up fifty years ago 
by Renan, whose " biography '* of Jesus was received 
with a far more widespread and no less violent storm of 
censure than that now being turned upon the myth- 
theory ; or at the more nearly negative position of 
Strauss, which was still more fiercely censured. Renan's 
position, or Strauss's, is now the position of the mass of 
" moderate " scholars and students. Those who have 
thus seen a denounced heresy become the standpoint of 
ordinary scholarly belief shotdd be slow to conclude that 
a newer heresy will not in time find similar acceptance. 



Chapter II 
THE CENTRAL MYTH 

§ 1. The Ground of Conflict 

For the purposes of this inquiry, all miracles, strictly 
so-calledj are out of discussion. This does not mean 
that the myth-theory of Jesus is an outcome of athe- 
istic philosophy. One of the most brilliant of modem 
books on Jesus is the work of an avowed atheist,^ who 
accepted substantially the whole of the non -supernatural 
presentment of Jesus in the gospels, taking it to be a 
bad biography, and subjecting the doctrine to keen but 
sympathetic criticism. This writer, dismissing miracles 
as outside debate, had a conviction of the historicity of 
Jesus which was in no way affected by a knowledge of 
modern documentary criticism. On the other hand. 
Professor Arthur Drews, author of The Christ Myth, 
expressly claims to urge the myth-theory in the interest 
of theistic religion. Of course he too dismisses miracles 
as outside discussion. 

Those who are still concerned to discuss them, and 
to affirm such beliefs as those of the Virgin Birth and 
the Resurrection, should turn their attention to the 
weU-known work of the late W. R. Cassels, Stjper- 
NATTTRAL RELIGION,^ in which the whole supernaturalist 
case, in its double aspect of '' revelation " and miracles, 
is examined with an abundance of learning, patience, 

1 JeavSy by William Renton. Pub. by author, Keswick, 1879. 
a Rep. by R.P.A. 1907. 

24 



THE CENTRAL MYTH 25 

and candour. Disparaged in its day by professional 
orthodox scholars, that treatise has so completely done 
its special work in the general criticism of supematuralist 
faith that, however common orthodoxy may still be, 
the matter is now little debated among instructed men. 
Those who still hold the orthodox position, therefore, 
are not here addressed. Our inquiry invites the atten- 
tion only of those who, abandoning the supematuralist 
basis of the Christian creed, seek to retain (it may be as 
the ground for a transformed '' Christianity ") (1) the 
human personality which they believe to have underlain 
the admitted myths of the record, and (2) the teachings 
— or some of them — ascribed to the God-Man of the 
Gospels. The problem is one of historical criticism, 
and does not turn upon theism or atheism. The his- 
toricity of Jesus is maintained not only by " Christians " 
of various degrees of heterodoxy but by some professed 
rationalists ; by critics eminent for judicial temper, as 
by Professor Schmiedel of Ziirich ; and on the other 
hand by Dr. F. C. Conybeare. 

These critics agree in regarding Jesus as a natural 
man, naturally born, and it is to them that we must 
reply. When an orthodox Christian like the Rev. Dr. 
T. J. Thorburn, holding by the Annunciation and the 
Virgin Birth, sets himself to rebut the myth-theory ^ 
by scouting myth analogies, it would be idle to argue 
with him, A writer who can believe he has evidence 
for a story of human parthenogenesis has no conception 
of evidence in common with us. It is accordingly need- 
less to point out that he constantly and absurdly mis- 
understands the myth argument ; ^ that he discusses 

^ The Mythical Interpretation of the Gospels, 1916. 
2 E. g. He takes as applying to Jesus {p. 377) a remark applied 
expressly and solely to the myth o£ Herakles. 



26 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

Evemerism without knowing what it means ; ^ and that 
he merely juggles with such cruces as the stories of the 
Transfiguration and the Ascension. From one at his 
standpoint we can expect nothing else ; and to those 
whom his exposition satisfies no myth-theory can appeal. 
When he resorts to the device of denying " spiritual 
insight " to those who accept scientific tests, he merely 
exemplifies the normal procedure of orthodox incom- 
petence. The religious reasoner who flouts reason 
usually certificates and betrays himself in that inexpen- 
sive fashion. Our argument is addressed to those who 
profess to apply to Biblical matters the principles of 
historical criticism. 

The biographical school, as one may inoffensively term 
the variously minded champions of the historicity of the 
record, abandon the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection 
as impossibilities. That is to say, they accept the mjrth- 
theory as regards those two cardinal items of the Christian 
legend. They also in general recognize that the fourth 
gospel, in so far as it differs vitally from the synoptics, 
is in the main a process of myth-making. But, clinging 
to the alleged substratum, most members of the school 
adhere to the fundamental historicity of the Crucifixion. 
Here they stand with Strauss, who found in the execu- 
tion of Jesus by Pontius Pilate a solid historical fact. 
Strauss is generally explicit as to his reasons for accept- 
ing and rejecting; and while he resolves into myth at 
least nine-tenths of the gospel narratives, finding them 
mere inventions to '' fulfil " supposed Old Testament 
predictions, he finds the testimony of Tacitus unquestion- 
able as to the execution.^ 

Now, the Annals of Tacitus is itself a questioned 

1 Work cited, p. 10. 

2 Second Lehen Jesu, § 91 (3te Aufl. p. 669). 



THE CENTRAL MYTH 27 

document; but even if we take it as unquestionable it 
is admittedly only a late statement of a narrative already 
made current by the Christists, the Annals being com- 
monly dated about 120 c.e. Either Tacitus was found- 
ing on a Roman record of the Crucifixion or he was 
merely saying what Christists said as to the origin of 
their sect. If the latter, he supplies no historical basis. 
On the other hand, the unlikelihood of there being a 
Roman record of executions in Palestine ninety years 
before is so great that no Christian advocate now appears 
to affirm it. Tacitus in fact gives no sign of consulting 
official records,^ his only traceable sources being previous 
historians, notably Suetonius. Thus Strauss 's express 
ground for accepting the execution of a '' Christ " by 
Pontius Pilate is really illusory; and when we further 
find him pronouncing that the Barabbas episode must 
be held fundamentally historical because it is " so. firmly 
rooted in the early Christian tradition," ^ we are again 
compelled to reject his test. As we shall see, the Barabbas 
episode is unintelligible as history, but highly intelligible 
as myth. At the very outset, then, unverified assump- 
tions are seen to be made by the biographical school as to 
what may confidently be taken as historical, even when, as 
in the case of Strauss, they affirm an abundance of myth. 
Where Strauss was rash, later rationalistic writers 
have been more so. My old friend, the English trans- 
lator of Jules Soury's early work on Jesus, took for 
granted that behind legendary heroes in general there 
is always a nucleus of fact ; but Soury, after postulating 
a large part of the gospel story as veridical, gave up a 
number of his own items. ^ As soon as he began to apply 

^ See -refs. in Drews, The Witnesses to the Historicity of Jesus, Eng. 
trans, p. 23. 

2 As cited, p. 572. 

3 Jesus arid Israel, Eng. tr., pp. viii, ix, 29. 



28 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

criticism, they were seen to be arbitrary assumptions. 
Equally arbitrary is the assumption of " some basis/' 
made upon no scientific principle. 

The biographical school in general adhere at least to 
the trial and condemnation before Pilate, though many 
abandon as fiction the trial before the Sanhedrim, which 
indeed was abandoned as long ago as the third gospel, 
in favour of an equally fictitious trial before Herod. As 
is seen by M. Loisy, the trial before Pilate is for the 
historical critic the keystone of the tragedy story. If 
that goes, there remains only a highly composite body 
of teaching, with no identifiable historical personality to 
which to attach it. 

But even as regards the trials there is wide divergence 
among the biographical school. For instance, Mr. 
Charles Stanley Lester, an ex-clergyman of Milwaukee, 
in his interesting work The Historic Jestjs,^ entirely 
rejects the Sanhedrim trial, and likewise the gospel 
account of the Pilate trial, but finds '' probable history " 
in the view that the priests privately persuaded Pilate 
to condemn Jesus on their accusation without any trial. ^ 
Again, the anonymous author of The Four Gospels as 
Historical Records,^ an eminently keen, searching, 
and candid critic, rejects alike the Judas story, the trial 
before the Sanhedrim, and the trial before Pilate,* as he 
does most of the other items of the gospel history, yet 
throughout seems to take for granted the historicity of 
the '' Great Teacher," the " Master," never even raising 
that issue save in protesting that he has absolutely 
nothing to say against him.^ So completely does he 
destroy the whole narrative, indeed, that he can hardly 

^ Putnams, 1912. I had not met with this work when I chose my 
own title. The Historical Jesus, else I shoiald have framed another. 
2 Work cited, pp. 335-353. ^ WiUiams and Norgate, 1895 

^ Work cited, p, 420. ^ Id. p. 17, etc. 



THE CENTRAL MYTH 29 

be said to maintain the thesis of historicity, but he never 
calls it in question : he merely destroys the biography. 
Mr. Lester, on the other hand, confidently rejects a 
hundred details as myth, claiming that he presents the 
gospels '' relieved of the drapery of mythology and set 
free from all dogmatic fictions " ; ^ and yet no less con- 
fidently affirms a hundred "undoubted" things, in a 
manner that almost outgoes M. Loisy. 

If, faced by such procedures, the critical reader asks 
upon what grounds the historical personality is accepted, 
he gets from the able anonymous writer no answer, and 
from Mr. Lester, in effect, only the answer that the 
teachings which appeal to him in the gospels are self- 
certified as coming from the '' Jesus " in whom he be- 
lieves, while the others are dismissed by him as incon- 
sistent with his conception. As a rule, the negative 
criticism is soundly reasoned ; the constructive is purely 
arbitrary. Yet Mr. Lester is an amiable and — apart 
from his quaint animosity towards '' the Semitic mind " ^ 
— a temperate critic, warmly concerned for historic truth 
and loyally opposed to all kinds of priestcraft, ancient 
and modern. What we must ask from such critics is 
that they should bring to bear on their biographical 
assumption the same critical method that they bring 
to bear on the multitude of details which strike them 
as obviously unhistorical. Rejecting miracles and self- 
contradictory narrative, they affirm a miraculous and 
self -contradictory Person. That conception too must be 
analysed. 

The Jesus of the Gospels is at once a Messiah (with 
no definite mission as such), a Saviour God with whom 

^ The Historic Jesus, p. vii. 

2 In this connection he puts the theory — derived from the celebrated 
Herr Chamberlain — ^that Jesus was not a Jew but an *' Amorite." 



30 THE JESUS PROBLEM 



the indefinite Messiah coalesces, and a Teaching God 
who coalesces with both. The biographical school, in 
the mass, posit a human Teacher, round whose teaching 
a Messianic conception combined with a doctrine of 
salvation by blood sacrifice has nucleated. If in this 
tissue there cannot be inserted the liistorical detail of 
the trial before Pilate, there is nothing left but the quasi- 
mythical detail of the crucifixion as an ostensible historical 
basis for the Messianic and other teaching, so much of 
which is alien to the early cult, so much of which is 
critically to be assigned to previous and contemporary 
Jewish sources, and so much to later Jesuist editors and 
compilers. Those laymen who are content to pick out 
of the gospels certain teachings, such as the Sermon on 
the Mount, and call these * ' Christianity, ' ' have not 
realized how completely documentary analysis has dis- 
integrated the teachings into pre-Jesuine Jewish and 
post-Jesuine Gentile matter. The latest professional 
analysis, as we have seen, leaves no Jesuine " Teaching" 
save an eschatology, a doctrine of '' last things," coming 
from a visionary Messiah with no political or social 
message.^ The bulk of the biographical school, on the 
other hand, cling diversely to *' something " in the 
Teaching which shall be somehow commensurate with 
the "impression" made by the life and death of the 
Teacher, which, from Renan onwards, they regard as 
the real genesis of the myth of the Resurrection and the 
consequent cult. 

Having shown, then, the cogent critical reasons for 
dismissing the entire record of the triple episode of the 
Supper, the Agony, and the Trials, as unhistorical,^ it 

1 H.J. chs. xvii and xix. 

2 H.J. 199. On this compare The Four Qospels as Historical Records, 
chs. vi-xiii. 



THE CENTRAL MYTH 31 

concerns us to show (1) that the whole is intelligible only 
as myth, and (2) how the myth probably arose. The 
sequence culminates in the Crucifixion, which, with the 
Sacrament, is for the rational hierologist as for the 
orthodox theologian the centre of Christianity. Equally 
the biographical school are committed to maintaining 
the historicity of the event, without which they cannot 
explain the rise of the cult. If then the myth-theory is 
to stand, it must show that the central narrative belongs 
to the realm of myth. 

§ 2. The Sacrificial Rite 

In the Christian record, the Crucifixion is essentially 
a sacrifice. " The essence of the Sacrament is not 
merely partaking of a common cup or a common meal, 
but feasting upon a sacrifice . . . and this was found 
everywhere among Jews and Gentiles." ^ Thus the term 
" Eucharist," which means " thanksgiving " or '^ thank- 
offering," applied in the Teaching of the Twelve 
Apostles to the kind of sacrament there indicated, and 
thence taken by Justin and other Fathers, is clearly a 
misnomer for the thing specified in the gospels. Of 
the gospel sacrifice, the sacrament is the liturgical and 
symbolic application.^ Or, otherwise, the crucifixion is 
the fulfilment of the theory of the sacrament. On the 
view of the historicity of the former, or of both, it would 
be necessary to show why the procedure set forth in the 

^ Canon Cheetham, Hulsean Lectures on The Mysteries, 1897, 
p. 115. 

^ " The primitive idea of the sacrificial meal, namely, that it is by 
participation in the blood of the god that the spirit of the god enters 
into his worshipper." — Prof. Jevons, Introd. to the Hist, of Religion, 
1896, p. 291. " Originally the death of the god was nothing else 
than the death of the theanthropic victim." — Robertson Smith, 
Religion of the Semites, 1889, p. 394. 



32 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

gospels so closely simulated a human sacrifice ; and this 
is incidentally attempted in passing by M. Loisy. The 
scene of derision by the soldiers, he says, '' was perhaps 
connected with some pagan festival usage." ^ But this 
at once admits the entrance of the myth-theory, which 
affirms that an immemorial "festival" usage is indi- 
cated. If Jesus was executed to please the Jewish 
multitude, as is the view even of the most destructive 
of the later German exegetes ^ — why should the execu- 
tion take a pagan form ? M. Loisy, who had previously 
accepted as history the narrative of the Entry into 
Jerusalem, with the public acclamation of Jesus as 
'' the Son of David," is unprepared to believe with the 
German critic that within a week the multitude cried 
"Crucify him!"; and he therefore wholly eliminates 
that item from his biographical sketch. He implies, 
however, that the doom of Jesus was passed by Pilate 
to please the priests, which is equally fatal to the thesis 
of a pagan festival usage. He accepts, further, the 
scene of the Mocking, with no ostensible critical reason, 
but presumably in order to establish a history which 
would explain the subsequent growth of the cult. In 
this process the salient episode of Barabbas is dismissed 
by him as unhistorical.^ 

Thus the most distinguished critic of the biographical 
school has no account to give of a second salient item in 
the record which, being entirely non-supernatural, must 
be held to have been inserted for some strong reason. 
It in fact closely involves the whole myth-theory. 
Barabbas was in aU probability a regular figure in 
Semitic popular religion; and the name connects docu- 
mentarily with that of Jesus. The reading " Jesus 

^ J^sita et la tradition 6vang4lique, 1910, p. 106. 
'^ H.J. 202-3. 3 Loisy, p. 171. 



THE CENTRAL MYTH 33 

Barabbas," in Mt. xxvii, 16, as we have noted/ was 
long the accepted one in the ancient Church ; and its 
entrance and its disappearance are alike significant. It 
is obviously probable that such a name as '' Jesus the 
Son of the Father '' (= Bar- Abbas ^), applied to a 
murderer, would give an amount of offence to early 
Christian readers which would naturally lead in time to 
its elimination from the current text.^ But on that 
view there is no explanation of its entrance. Such a 
stumbling-block could not have been set up without a 
compulsive reason. 

The anthropological and hierological data go to show 
that an annual sacrifice of a " Son of the Father " was 
a long-standing feature in the Semitic world. A story 
in Philo Judseus about a mummery in Alexandria in 
ridicule of the Jewish King Agrippa, the grandson of 
Herod, points pretty clearly to a local Jewish survival 
from that usage. A lunatic named Karabas is said to 
have been paraded as a mock-king, with mock-crown, 
sceptre and robe.^ In all likelihood the iT is a mis- 
transcription for B. In any case, '' the custom of sacri- 
ficing the son for the father was common, if not universal, 
among Semitic peoples,"^ as among others; and the 
Passover ® was originally a sacrifice of firstlings, human 
and animal,' the former being probably most prevalent 
in times of disaster. " Devotion " was the principle : 
surrogate sacrifices would normally be substituted. 
Sacrifice of a king's son, in particular, was held to be of 

^ See refs. in H.J. 171 ; others in O.B. ix. 420 n. An overwhelming 
case for the reading " Jesus (the) Barabbas " is established by E. B. 
Nicholson, The Gospel according to the Hebrews, 1879, pp. 141—2. 

2 Mr. Lester translates " Son of a Teacher," but this (adopted by- 
Brandt) is an evasive rendering. He thinks the story, even if true, 
had no connection with the condemnation of Jesus, 

3 Cp. Nicholson, as cited, p. 142. * O.B. ix, 418; P.C. 146. 

s O.B. ix, 419. 6 j(^^ iv^ ch, vi; P.C. 124. 

' P.C. 152, 64; O.B. iv (Pt. Ill, The Dying God), 170 sq. 
D 



34 THE JESUS PROBLEM 



overwhelming efficacy by early Hebrews and other Semites, 
as among other races in the savage and barbaric stages.^ 

There is nothing peculiar to the Semites either in the 
general or in the particular usage, both being once nearly 
universal ; but it is with the Semites that we are here 
specially concerned. The story of Abraham and Isaac, 
to say nothing of that of Jephthah's daughter, is a finger- 
post in the evolution of religion, being inferribly a humane 
myth to promote the substitution of animal for human 
sacrifice. And the Phoenician myth of '* leoud," the 
" only-begotten " son of King Kronos, *' whom the Phoeni- 
cians call Israel," sacrificed by his father at a time of 
national danger, after being dressed in the trappings of 
royalty,^ points towards the historic roots of Christianity. 
Again and again we meet the conception of the '' only- 
begotten " '' Son of the Father " — Father Abraham, 
Father Kronos, Father Israel, the Father-King — as a 
special sacrifice in Hebrew and other Semitic history. 
Kronos is a Semitic God ; and in connection with the 
Roman Saturnalia we have the record of a Greek oracle 
commanding to " send a man to the Father " — that is, 
to Kronos.^ 

What is certain is that sacrifices of kings, which were 
at one stage of social evolution normal,^ inevitably tended 
to take other tribal or communal forms ; and a multitude 
of rites preserved plain marks of the regal origin. Kings 
would inevitably pass off their original tragic burden; 
the community, bent on the safeguard of sacrifice, shifted 
it in tum.5 Sacrifice of some kind, it was felt, there must 

1 P.C. 161. Cp. Turner, Samoa, 1884, 274-5; Q.B, iv, ch. vi. 

2 P.O. 137, 161, 186; Q,B. iv (Pt. Ill), 166. 

^ Macrobius, Saturnalia, i, 7. Cp. Varro, cit. by Lactantius, Div, 
Inst, i, 21. 

* G.B. iv, 14 aq., 46 sq., x, 1 sq. 

^ Cp. Ward's View of the Religion of the Hindoos, 5th ed. 1863, p. 92. 



THE CENTRAL MYTH 35 

be, to avert divine wrath : ^ that conviction lies at the 
base of the Christian as of the Jewish religion : it is 
fundamental to all primitive rehgion ; and it is happily 
beyond our power to realize save symbolically the im- 
measurable human slaughter that the religious conviction 
has involved. 

Primarily, voluntary victims were desired ; and in 
Roman and Japanese history there are special or general 
records of their being forthcoming, annually or in times 
of emergency .2 Even in the case of animal sacrifice, 
the Romans had a trick of putting barley in the victim's 
ear to make him bow his head as if in submission.^ But 
as regards human sacrifices, which were felt to be specially 
efficacious, the progression was inevitable from willing 
to compelled victims ; and out of the multitude of the 
forms of human sacrifice, for which war captives and 
slaves at some stages supplied a large proportion of the 
victims, we single that of the evolution from the voluntary 
scape-goat or the sacrificed king or messenger, through 
the victim '' bought with a price," to the released criminal 
or other desperate or resigned person bribed with a period 
of licence and abundance to die for the community at the 
end of it. 

In many if not in most of these cases, deification of the 
victim was involved in the theory, the victim being 
customarily identified with the God.* It was so in 
certain special sacrifices in pre-Christian Mexico.^ It 
was so in the human sacrifices of the Khonds of Orissa, 
which subsisted till about the middle of last century.® 
In the latter instance, of which we have precise record, 

1 See P.C. 106 sq. as to the various motives of human sacrifice. 

2 Livy, viii, 9, 10; Lafcadio Heam, Japan, 166; P.C, 138. 

3 Cp. Kallsch, Comm. on Leviticus, 1867, i, 366; P.C. 121. 

* Robertson Smith, Senvites, 391; F. B. Jevons, Introd. to Hist, of 
Religion, pp. 274-93. 

^ P.C, 363. « Id. 108 sq. 



36 THE JESUS PROBLEM 



the annual victims were taken from families devoted by 
purchase to the function, or were bought as children and 
brought up for the purpose. They were " bought with a 
price." When definitely allotted, the males were per- 
mitted absolute sexual liberty, being regarded as already 
virtually deified. The victim was finally slain '' for the 
sins of the world," and was liturgically declared a God in 
the process. 

Such rites gradually dwindled in progressive com- 
munities from ritual murders into ritual mysteries or 
masquerades ; even as human sacrifices in general, in 
most parts of the world, dwindled from bodies to parts 
of bodies, fingers, hair, foreskins ; from human to animal 
victims ; ^ from larger to smaller animals ; from these to 
fowls ; from real animals to baked or clay models, fruits, 
grains, sheafs of rushes, figures, paper or other symbols. 
It seems usually to have been humane kings or chiefs 
who imposed the improvement on priesthoods. And 
as with the victim, so with the sacramental meal which 
accompanied so many sacrifices. Cannibal sacraments 
were once, probably, universal : they have survived 
down till recent times in certain regions ; but with 
advance in civilization they early and inevitably tend to 
become merely symbolic. In Mexico at the advent of 
Cortes, both the cannibal and the symbolic forms sub- 
sisted — the former under conventional limitations ; the 
latter in the practice of eating a baked image which had 
been raised on a cross and there pierced, for sanctifica- 
tion.2 This ** Eating of the God" was very definitely 
a sacrament; but so were the cannibalistic sacraments 
which preceded it. 

J Cp. O.B. Pt. Ill, The Dying God (vol. iv), 166 n., 214 sq.; P.C. 
116-117, 140. 
2 P.C. 364-8. 



THE CENTRAL MYTH 37 

Surveying the general evolution, we reach the in.Sr- 
ence that somewhere in Asia Minor there subsisted 
before ''our era " a cult or cults in which a *' Son of 
the Father " was annually sacrificed under one or other 
of the categories of human sacrifice — Scapegoat, repre- 
sentative Firstling, Vegetation God, or Messenger ; 
possibly in some cases under all four aspects in one. 
The usage may or may not have subsisted in post-exilic 
Jerusalem : quite possibly it did, for not only do the 
Sacred Books avow constant popular and legal resort 
to " heathen " practices of human sacrifice,^ but Jewish 
religious lore preserves in a variety of forms clear evidence 
of institutions of human sacrifice which are not recognized 
in the Sacred Books. ^ In any case, in connection with 
the particular cult or rite in question there subsisted 
also a Eucharist or Sacrament or Holy Supper, analogous 
to the sacraments of the cults of Mithra, Dionysos, Attis, 
and many other Gods.^ At a remote period it had been 
strictly cannibalistic : in course of time, it became 
symbolical. In other words, originally the sacrificed 
victim was sacramentally eaten ; in course of time the 
thing eaten was something else, with at most a ritual 
formula of " body and blood." At a certain stage, 
whether by regal or other compulsion or by choice of 
the devotees, the annual rite of sacrifice became a mere 
ritual or Mystery Drama — as in other cases it became a 
public masquerade. The former evolution underlay the 
religions of Dionysos, Osiris, Adonis, and Attis : the 
latter may or may not have gone on alongside of the former. 

What does emerge from the gospel narrative con- 
cerning Barabbas and Jesus is, not that such an episode 

^ Cp. Kalisch, as cited; Q.B., as last cited;. Ps. 106, etc. 
2 P.G, 158 sq. Hebrews, ix, 7, 26, suggests a cryptic meaning for 
the sacrifice of atonement. 

* As to Hebrew private sacraments, see P.G. 168 aq. 



38 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

happened : here the myth-theory is at one with M. Loisy, 
who in effect pronounces the narrative to be myth : but 
that in the first age of Christianity the name " Jesus 
Barabbas " was well known, and stood for something 
well known. It was certainly known to the Jews, for 
we have Talmudical mention, dating from a period just 
after the fall of the Temple, that there was a Jewish 
ritual " Week of the Son, or, as some call it, Jesus the 
Son,'' in connection with the circumcision and redemption 
of the first-born child. ^ From the inference of the 
currency of the name there is no escape : attached to a 
robber and murderer it could never have got into the 
gospels otherwise. And the myth-theory can supply 
the explanation which neither the orthodox nor the 
biographical theory can jdeld. We have outside evidence 
that a sacrifice of a " Son of the Father " was customary 
in parts of the Semitic world. What the gospel story 
proves is that it was known to have been a practice, 
either at Jerusalem or elsewhere, to release a prisoner 
to the multitude in connection with a popular festival, 
which might or might not have been the Passover. The 
release may have been for the purpose either of a religious 
masquerade or of a sacrifice. Either way, the religious 
rite involved was a rite of '' Jesus Barabbas " — Jesus 
the Son of the Father — and it involved either a real or 
a mock sacrifice, in which the " Son " figured as a mock 
king, with robe and crown. 

The more the problem is considered, then, the more 
clear becomes the solution. As soon as the Jesuist cult 
reached the stage of propaganda in which it described its 
Son-God as having died, in circumstances of ignominy, 
as an atoning sacrifice, it would be met by the memory 

1 P.O. 166. I do not find that Mr. R, T. Herford deals with this 
matter in hia valuable work on Christianity in Talnvud and Midraah, 1903. 



THE CENTRAL MYTH 39 

of the actual Barabbas rite. Given that the Barabbas 
victim was ritually scourged and " crucified " (a term 
which has yet to be investigated), it follows that wherever 
the early propaganda^ went in areas in which the memory 
of the rite subsisted, the Christists would be told that 
their Jesus the Son was simply the Jesus Barabbas of 
that popular rite ; and the only possible — or at least the 
best — way to override the impeachment was to insert a 
narrative which reduced the regular ritual Jesus Barabbas 
to a single person, a criminal whom the wicked Jewish 
multitude had chosen to save instead of the sinless Jesus 
of the cult. In the circumstances given it was an abso- 
lutely necessary invention; and no other circumstances 
could conceivably have made it necessary. The story, 
by the unwilling admission of M. Loisy, who conserves 
whatever he thinks he critically can of the record, is a 
myth ; and it is a myth which on the biographical theory 
cannot be explained. The myth-theory has explained it. 
As for the disappearance of the " Jesus " from the name 
of Barabbas in the records, it hardly needs explanation. 
When the memory of the old annual rite died away from 
general knowledge, the elision of the '' Jesus " would be 
desirable alike for the learned who still knew and the 
unlearned who did not.^ 



§ 3. Contingent Elements 

It is needless for the defender of the biographical 
theory to interject a protest that the Barabbas story is 

1 See below, p. 104, as to the inferrible early forms of the propaganda 
of the crucifixion. 

2 Mr. Joseph McCabe {Sources of Gospel Morality, p. 21) argues 
against the myth-theory that the early Kabbis never, question the 
historicity of Jesus. But it is extremely likely that early Rabbis 
did use the Barabbas argument before the gospel story was framed. 
In an age destitute of historical literature and of critical method or 
practice, it sufficed to turn their flank. 



40 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

only one item in the case. The other items will all be 
dealt with in turn : that has been put in the front be- 
cause of its crucial significance. Incidentally it may be 
further noted that the myth-theory explains the plainly 
unhistorical item of '' the thirty pieces of silver/' con- 
fusedly explained from " the prophet Jeremy '' as *' the 
price of him that was priced, whom [certain] of the 
children of Israel did price " (Mt. xxvii, 9). The refer- 
ence is really to Zechariah (xi, 12, 13). 

The story of the Betrayal is fiction on the very face 
of the narrative, Judas being employed to point out a 
personage of declared notoriety, about whose movements 
there had been no secrecy.^ Judas is demonstrably a 
somewhat late figure in the gospel legend, coming from 
the later Mystery Drama, not from the rite on which it 
was built. But, whatever may be the solution of the 
cryptogram about the potter's field and the thirty pieces 
of silver in Zechariah, or the historic fact about Acel- 
dama, one thing is clear : " the price of him that was 
priced," in Matthew, tells of the usage of paying a price 
for sacrificial victims. 

It does not foUow that a price was regularly paid in 
the case of the Jesus Barabbas rite, though the record 
actually insists on the item by way of the Judas story : 
what is clear is that a memory of bought victims sub- 
sisted after the fall of Jerusalem. It is not unlikely that 
" Aceldama " was a field where sacrificial victims were 
either slain or buried, or both. A passage in the Kalika 
Purana suggests the procedure, and the probable sig- 
nificance of Golgotha, the " place of skulls." In the 
Hindu rite, the human victim was immolated " at a 

1 CM. 362, § 21, and refs. A fair " biographical " inference would 
be that the betrayed Jesus had been an obscure person, not publicly 
known. This inference, however, is never drawn. 



THE CENTRAL MYTH 41 

cemetery or holy place," upon which the sacrificer was 
not to look; and the head was presented in " the place 
of skulls, sacred to Bhoiruvu " (God of Fear). This 
could be in a special temple, or in a part of the cemetery, 
'' or on a mountain." ^ 

At this point a warning must be given against the 
confusion set up by the habitual assumption that '' some- 
thing of the kind " occurred under Pontius Pilate. It 
is only on the biographical theory that that date is valid. 
Pontius Pilate is simply a figure in the later Mystery 
Drama, originally chosen, probably, because of his 
notoriety as a shedder of Jewish blood, ^ We are not 
bound to prove that at his date the usage of ritual human 
sacrifice, real or pretended, survived at Jerusalem, though 
it may have done, as it survived at Rhodes in the time 
of Porphyry in the form, perhaps, of a Semitic mystery 
drama. ^ 

It is the assumption of the historicity of the Cruci- 
fixion that partly disarms the theorem of Sir J. G. Frazer 
as to a coincidence of Jewish sacrificial rites. ^ Noting 
that the details of the Crucifixion closely conform to those 
of a human sacrifice sometimes practised in the Christian 
era in connection with the Roman Saturnalia, and also 
to those of a real or mock rite connected with the Baby- 
lonian feast of the Sacsea, he resorts to the alternative 
hypotheses (a) that the analogous Jewish feast of Purim, 
imported from Babylon after the Return, and also in- 
volving either a real or a mock crucifixion, chanced to 
coincide with the actual crucifixion of the gospel Jesus ; 
or that ip) Christian tradition '' shifted the date of the 

^ Ward's View of the Religion of the Hindoos, 6th ed. 1863, p. 91. 

^ Cp. Prof. Drews, The Witnesses to the Historicity of Jesus^ Eng. tr. 
p. 54 sq.j for Niemojewski's theory that Pilate = the constellation Orion, 
pilattcs, the javelin-bearer. This theory is not endorsed by Drews. 

3 P.C. 137. * G.B. ix, 4:12 sq. 



42 , THE JESUS PEOBLEM 

crucifixion by a month or so " to connect it with the 
Passover, As the official Purim rite, though cognate 
with that of the Passover, cannot well have been allowed 
to coincide with it, the theory of coincidence is barred ; 
and the theorist is assured by an expert colleague that 
" all that we hear of the Passion is only explicable by 
the Passover festival," and that '' without the back- 
ground of the festival all that we know of the Crucifixion 
and of what led up to it is totally unintelligible." ^ 

When, however, the unhistorical character of the 
gospel narrative is realized, such difficulties disappear. 
The intention was certainly to connect the Crucifixion 
with the Passover (in which the paschal lamb — symbol- 
izing Isaac — was customarily dressed in the form of a 
cross 2) ; and in the fourth gospel Jesus becomes an 
actual Passover sacrifice. But the narrative is simply a 
reduction to historic form of the procedure of a customary 
ritual sacrifice, habitual usages of human sacrifice being 
represented as expedients of a single Roman execution. 
With the exact seasonal date of the Jesus Barabbas rite 
which here motived the gospel legend, the myth-theory 
is not primarily concerned, though it has secondary 
interest. It was probably a Spring Festival, and at the 
same time a New Year Festival, the period of the vernal 
equinox having been both in east and west the time of 
the New Year before that was placed after the winter 
solstice. It is thus highly likely that there were ana- 
logous sacrificial festivals at Yule and at Easter, one 
celebrating the new-birth of the sun and the other the 
revival of vegetation. The Sacsea festival may or may 
not have been identical with that known from the monu- 
ments to have been called the Zakmuk ^ (New Year) : 

1 O.B. ix, 415, note. 

2 Justin Martyr, Dial, with Trypho, c. 40. ' Q.B. ix, 357 aq. 



THE CENTRAL MYTH 43 

either way, the features may have been the same. There 
was in Judea, further, a hieratic year as well as a civil, 
a Lesser Passover as well as the greater.^ The myth- 
theory does not depend on an agreed date, though the 
myth fixes on an astronomical date, itself constantly 
varying in the calendar. 

What leaps to the eyes is that the gospel legend pre- 
serves two separated features of the festival of a Sacrificed 
Mock-King, which as incidents in the life of the Teacher 
are wholly incompatible, and which the biographical 
theory cannot reasonably explain — the acclaimed and 
welcomed Entry into Jerusalem and within a week the 
demand of the city multitude for the crucifixion. The 
Entry is an elaboration of several myth elements, but 
it contains the item of the acclaimed ride of the quasi- 
king, mounted on an ass (or two asses). If the bio- 
graphical school would but consider historical proba- 
bilities, they would realize that the story as told cannot 
be historical, with or without the strange antithesis of 
the multitude's speedy demand for the prophet's death. 
Such a triumphal entry, for such a person as the gospel 
Jesus, could not spontaneously have taken place : it 
must have been planned ; and, if arranged with such 
an effect as the record describes, it would have given 
Pilate very sufficient ground for intervention without 
waiting for a complaint from the priests. Taken as 
history, it is wholly irreconcilable with the '' Crucify 
him " ascribed to a multitude whose support of Jesus 
had been affirmed the day before ; and accordingly M. 
Loisy, accepting the Entry, rejects the latter episode. 
Strauss, hesitating to go, '' as has latterly often been 
done," the length of rejecting the Entry on the ass as 
wholly mythical, finds it very much so ; ^ and Brandt 
1 P.O. 146 J G.B. ix, 359. ^ Second Lehen Jem, § 83. 



44 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

incidentally dismisses it as " under the strongest sus- 
picion of being framed upon Old Testament motives 
from beginning to end." ^ 

Thus the biographical school itself proffers a myth- 
theory, without indicating an explanatory motive for 
the positing of a contradiction. But when we realize 
that an acclamation of a quasi-king riding on an ass was 
actually part of the ritual in a sacrificial rite in which he 
was to he crucified, the two clashing elements in the legend 
are at once explained in the full myth-theory. Their 
separate handling and development was, just as intel- 
ligibly, part of the process of gospel-making, the creation 
of an ideal Jesus. But seeing that in the Sacsea festival 
the mock-king had a five days' reign between his start 
and his death,^ the original ritual gave the interval which 
in the gospel story is filled with the acts of the Teaching 
God. Five days is the accepted traditional interval 
from Palm Sunday to Crucifixion Day. 

[Even for the item of the two asses in Matthew there is 
a myth-explanation. Many writers of the biographical 
school, who compensate themselves for their difficulties 
by ascribing a peculiarly crass stupidity to the apostles 
and evangelists at every opportunity, decide that the 
narrator or interpolator posited the two asses, an ass 
and its colt, because he found in Zechariah a Messianic 
prediction so phrased,^ and did not understand that the 
Hebraic idiom simply meant " an ass." Yet one member 
of the school. Dr. Conybeare, fiercely denounces myth- 
theorists for claiming to understand Jewish symbolism 
better than the Jews did. Either principle serves the 
turn. When Tertullian says that Jesus is the Divine 
Fish because fishes were parthenogenetically born, and 
Jesus was born again in the waters of the Jordan, Dr. 

1 Die evang. Qeschichte, p. 156. ^ q^b. Pt. Ill (vol. iv), 113-114. 

3 " Upon an ass and [even in R.V.] upon a colt, the foal of an ass," 
Zech. ix, 9. I should explain that in denying that such *' tautologies " 
were normal in the Old Testament I had in view narrative passages. 



THE CENTRAL MYTH 45 

Conybeare is sure of the wisdom of TertuUian. This 
thesis, first found in TertuUian, is to decide the question, 
to the exclusion of any reflection on the fact that the 
Sun at Easter had before the Christian era passed from 
the sign Aries to the sign Pisces in the zodiac. But 
when Matthew reads Zechariah's two asses as meaning 
two asses, Matthew is to be dismissed as a Jew who did 
not understand the commonest Hebrew idiom. 

The simple fact that the Septuagint does not give the 
duplication, putting only " a young colt," will serve to 
indicate to any careful reader that the evangelist or inter- 
polator was following the Hebrew, and therefore is to be 
presumed to have known something of Hebrew idiom. 
And the just critical inference is that both passages had 
regard to the zodiacal figure of the Two Asses for the 
sign Cancer, from which we have the myth of Bacchus 
riding on two asses. ^ Further, it is probable that the 
similar passage in the Song of Jacob ^ has also a zodiacal 
basis. These details, which Dr. Conybeare absolutely 
withholds from his readers, indicate the mythological 
induction put by the present writer. In an uncon- 
struable sentence, Dr. Conybeare appears to argue ^ that 
to secure any consideration for such a thesis we must 
'' prove that the earliest Christians, who were Jews, 
must have been familiar with the rare legend of Bacchus 
crossing a marsh on two asses," and ^' with the rare 
representation of the zodiacal sign Cancer as an ass and 
its foal." 

How the critic knows that the legend was rare at the 
beginning of the Christian era he does not reveal ; any 
more than he gives his justification for calling the Asses 
sign rare in the face of the statement of Lactantius that 
the Greeks call the sign of Cancer " (the) Asses." This 
reference was given by me, as also the item that the 
sign of the Ass and Foal is Babylonian. It was thus 
very likely to be known in the Semitic world. Yet 
Dr. Conybeare obliviously informs us that ''it is next 
to impossible " that it should be known to " the earliest 

1 CM. 338-341. 2 Gen. xlix, 11. 

3 The Historical Christ, p. 22. 



46 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

Christians," when all the while he is arguing that Matthew 
was not the gospel of '' the earliest Christians." It is in 
perfect keeping with this chaotic procedure that he first 
oracularly refers me to Hyginus, whose version of the 
myth of Bacchus and the asses I had actually cited and 
quoted; and then, discovering that I had done so, yet 
leaving his written exhortation unaltered, he announces 
that '' by Mr. Robertson's own admission, Bacchus never 
rode on two asses at all." It is difficult to be sure whether 
Dr. Conybeare does or does not believe in the historicity 
of Bacchus, as he does in that of Jesus ; but seeing that 
Lactantius, as cited by me, expressly declares that the 
two asses (= Cancer) carried Bacchus over the marsh, 
and that Dr. Conybeare had already recognized that 
such a myth existed, his absurd conclusion can be set 
down only to his habitual incoherence. 

I have dealt in detail with his futile criticism at this 
point by way of putting the reader on his guard against 
the method of bluster. Comparative mythology is a 
difficult and thornj^ field, but it has to be explored; 
and Dr. Conybeare, whose study of the subject seems to 
have begun in the year of the issue of his book,^ does 
not even discern the nature of its problems. He avowedly 
supposes that totems are Gods ; and he argues that 
the Jewish and Hellenistic world in the age of Augustus 
was at the mythopceic stage of the Australian aborigines 
of to-day. Of the phenomena of iconographic myth he 
is evidently quite ignorant ; and his dithyramb on the 
sun myth tells of nothing but obsolete debate on the 
question. And it is in this connection that he informs 
his antagonists, in his now celebrated academic manner, 
that they are '' a back number." 

It has only to be added that as regards the docu- 
mentary problem, in this connection, Dr. Conybeare is 
equally distracted. It is far from certain that at this 
point Mark's '' colt " is not a " rectification " of an original 
which Matthew accepted. The assumption — negatived 
by themselves — ^that Mark and Matthew as we have them 

^ See p. 19, note^ ref. to M. Durkheim. M. Durkheim is one of the 
greatest of anthropologists ; he is not a mythologist at all. 



THE CENTRAL MYTH 47 

are both primary forms, Matthew always following and 
elaborating Mark, is one of the loose hypotheses which 
such critics when it suits them take for certainties. But 
the question of priority of form does not affect the funda- 
mental issue. One of the suggestions put by me which 
Dr. Conybeare has carefully withheld from his readers — 
if, indeed, he ever really sees what is before him — is that 
the item of the single ass or colt is probably a myth 
with another basis. " An ass tied " appears to have 
been an Egyptian symbol pointing to a solar date or a 
zodiacal or other myth,^ and this symbol, which is found 
in the Song of Jacob, is the form put upon the Mark story 
by Justin Martyr. That the other symbol had a long 
Christian vogue is indicated first by the fact that there 
actually exists a Gnostic gem showing an ass suckling its 
foal, with the figure of the crab (Cancer) above, and the 
inscription D.N. IHV. XPS., DEI FILIUS = Dominus 
Noster Jesu (?) Christus, Son of God ; ^ and, secondly, by 
the mention of the ass and foal in the third Sermon of 
St. Proclus (5th c.).^ These details also Dr. Conybeare 
withholds from his readers, for the purposes of his polemic. 
That we are dealing with a conflict of symbolisms will 
probably be the inference of those who will face the 
facts. But Dr. Conybeare, who is here in good company, 
is quite satisfied that behind the Mark story of Jesus 
riding in a noisy procession on an unbroken colt we have 
unquestionable history. There must be no nonsense 
about two asses ; but for him the story of the unbroken 
colt raises no difficulty. He further simplifies the prob- 
lem by summarizing Mark as telling that " an insignificant 
triumphal demonstration is organized for him [Jesus] 
as he enters the sacred city on an ass " ; * and by ex- 
plaining that '' there was no other way of entering 
Jerusalem unless you went on foot." ^ The '' insig- 
nificant " is held to be sufficient to dispose of the problem 
of the Roman Governor's entire indifference to a Messianic 
movement. Thus functions the biographic method, in 
the hands of our academician. 

1 CM. 340. 2 j^^ 341^ 3 2^ 218, note. 

* Work cited, p. 14. ^ Id. p. 76. 



48 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

All the wMe, the item of the foal is, on his own inter- 
pretation, a specified fulfilment of a prophecy, only in 
this case the prophecy is in his opinion rightly under- 
stood, whereas in the two-ass story it was misunderstood. 
By his own method, the critic is committed to the position 
that the phrase '' whereon no man ever yet sat " is 
myth.^ For serious critics in general, this is sufficient to 
put in doubt the whole story. For our critic, a story of 
a triumphal procession, with an unbroken colt, is simply 
resolved into one of an " insignificant procession," with 
an ordinary donkey. Thus, under the pretence of ex- 
tracting history from a given document, the document 
is simply manipulated at will to suit a presupposition. 
On this plan, the twelve labours of Herakles are simply 
history exaggerated, and any one can make any Life of 
Herakles out of it at his pleasure. We must not say that 
Una rode on a lion, but we may infer that she rode on a 
small yellow pony. It is the method of the early German 
deistic rationalists, according to which the story of Jesus 
walking on the water is saved by the explanation that he 
was walking on the shore.] 

Part of the demonstration of the myth-theory, again, 
lies in the fact that the first act of Jesus after his entry 
is to '' cast out all them that sold and bought in the 
temple, and overthrow the tables of the money-changers, 
and the seats of them that sold the doves." That this 
should have been accomplished without resistance seemed 
to Origen so astonishing that he pronounced it among the 
greatest miracles of Jesus,^ adding the skeptical com- 
ment — ''if it really happened." The myth-theory may 
here claim the support of Origen. 

Strauss could find no ground for rejecting the story as 
myth upon his method of finding myth-motives only in 
the Old Testament. If he had lived in our day he would 
probably have agreed that the episode is singled out of 

^ See his Myihy Magic, and Morals^ 2nd ed. p. 302. 
2 Gomm, in J oh. x, 16, cited by Strauss. See his first Life of Jesus^ 
Pt. II, ch. vii, § 88, for the views of the commentators on the episode. 



THE CENTRAL MYTH 49 

the kinds of exploit which were permitted to the victim 
in the Sacsea and the Saturnalia and such primitive 
sacrificial festivals in general, and turned to a doctrinal 
account. Such liberties as are described, all falling 
short of sacrilege, are among those which could normally 
take place. It is by way of anti- Judaism that the 
episode is utilized in the synoptics. 

In the fourth gospel, where so many matters are turned 
to new account, and so much new doctrine introduced, 
the purification is put with symbolic purpose at the 
outset of the Messiah's career, in a visit to Jerusalem of 
which the synoptics know nothing ; and in this myth 
Jesus makes " a scourge of small cords " to effect his 
purpose. That later item wag probably suggested by the 
effigy of the Egyptian Saviour God Osiris, who bears a 
scourge as the God of retribution. In the synoptics there 
is no symbol : the story is simply employed as part of 
the superadded didactic machinery which alternately 
exhibits the full development of the Messiah and the 
unfitness of the *' Jewish dispensation " to continue. 
Inferribly, the story of the fig-tree is in the same case, 
signifying the condemnation of the Jewish cult, though 
here there may be a concrete motive of which we have 
lost the clue. But it is significant that while the gospel 
record could not possibly assign to the holy Messiah 
such a general course as was followed by the licensed 
sacrificial victim, it foUows the story of his Entry -udth 
that of one markedly disorderly act ; whereafter he goes 
to lodge in Bethany (Mt. xxi, 17) at a house which later 
is indicated as that of a leper (xxvi, 6). There his head 
is anointed by a woman; who in Luke, in a differently 
placed episode (vii, 37), becomes " a sinner." Is not this 
another echo from the obscure tragedy of the sacrificial 
victim, who was anointed for his doom ? 



50 THE JESUS PROBLEM 



§ 4. The Mock-King Ritual 

Separately considered, the Crucifixion in the gospel 
story is as impossible as the Entry. The cross, we are 
told, was headed with an inscription : '' This is the King 
of the Jews." Sir J. G. Frazer ^ and M. Salomon Reinach ^ 
concur in recognizing that if the victim had really been 
executed on the charge of making such a claim, no Roman 
governor would have dared so to endorse it. ^ The 
argument is that only by turning the execution into a 
celebration of a popular rite could the procedure have 
been made officially acceptable. But to extract such an 
explanation from the record is simply to stultify it as 
such. If there really occurred such a manipulation of 
the death-scene of an adored Teacher, how could the 
narrators possibly fail to say as much ? We are asked by 
the biographical school to believe that the Crucifixion 
was made a farce-tragedy by treating the Teacher as 
the victim in a well-known rite of human sacrifice, and 
also to believe that the devotees who preserved the 
record, knowing this fact, chose to say nothing about it, 
preferring to represent the procedure as a unique incident. 
It might perhaps be argued, on the biographical view, 
that the Roman soldiers, who are held to have been 
Asiatics, chose to improvise a version of a sacrificial rite 
which was unknown to the Jesuists, and that the latter 
simply reported the episode without understanding it, 
interpreting it from their prophets in their own way. 
But if the record be historical it is incredible that in a 
cult which is claimed to have made many adherents 
throughout the Roman Empire in east and west in a 

^ Q.B. ix, 417. 2 CulteSf mytheSf et religions, i, 338. 

^ In John, the high priest is actually made to remonstrate from a 
Jewish point of view, by way of enforcing the Christian conclusion. 



THE CENTEAL MYTH 51 

generation or two, it should not quickly have become 
known that the procedure of the Crucifixion was a copy 
of popular eastern and western rites of human sacrifice. 
If there had taken place what the hypothesis suggests, 
there was a purposive suppression. That is to say, the 
credibility of the narrative is at this point vitally im- 
peached by a supporter of the biographical theory, which 
expressly rests on the narrative as regards non-miraculous 
data. 

And while on the one hand it is in effect charged with 
the gravest suppressio veri, on the other it is charged, 
equally in the name of the biographical view, with some- 
thing more than suggestio falsi, with absolute fiction. 
M. Loisy does not merely dismiss the Barabbas story 
as unhistorical, offering no explanation of its strange 
presence : he comes critically to the conclusion that Jesus 
on the cross uttered no word, whether of despair, entreaty, 
or resignation. We need not ask what kind of credit 
M. Loisy can ask for a record which he thus so gravely 
discredits. The scientific question is, Upon what grounds 
can he demur to the extension of a myth-theory to 
which he thus contributes ? If the record admittedly 
invented utterances for the Teacher on the cross, why 
should not the whole be an invention ? In particular, 
why should not the trial before Pilate and the inscription 
on the cross be inventions ? 

The inscription on the cross, we see, is for the great 
anthropologist of the school impossible save as part 
of a simulated ritual. M. Loisy, supporting the same 
general thesis, declares that " to say Jesus was not con- 
demned to death as king of the Jews, that is to say, as 
Messiah, on his own avowal, amounts to saying [autant 
vaut soutenir] that he never existed.'' ^ It is even so ; and 

^ Jiaus et la tradition, p. 76. 



52 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

the supporter of the myth-theory is thus doubly justified. 
The loyal induction is, not that in any rite of human 
sacrifice exactly such a label was affixed to the gibbet, 
but that probably some label was, and that the gospel 
framers (or one of them) " invented " a label which 
stated their claim for Jesus as Messiah. It was a fairly 
skilful thing to do, representing the label as a Roman 
mockery, and thereby making it an appeal to every Jew.^ 
It is indeed conceivable that Roman soldiers taking part, 
once in a way, in the rite of Jesus Barabbas, may have 
turned that to a purpose of contempt by labelling the 
poor mock-king as the king of the Jews. But such an 
episode would not be the enactment of the scene described 
in the record. It would merely be a hint for it, the accept- 
ance of which was but an additional item of fiction. 

That the Crucifixion, as described, is a normal act of 
ritual human sacrifice, is even more true than it is shown 
to be by the parallels of the Sacsea and the Saturnalia. 
The scourging, the royal robe, the mock crown, were aU 
parts of those rituals, which thus conform in parody to 
the ritual of the mythic sacrifice of leoud, son of Kronos, 
probably parodied in the ritual for the victim sacrificed 
to Kronos at Rhodes. But so are the drink of wine and 
myrrh, the leg-breaking, and the piercing with the 
spear. The crown is a feature of all ancient sacrifice, 
in all parts of the world, Crowns of flowers were normal 
in the case of human victims, in India, in Mexico, in 
Greece, and among the North-American Indians, as in 
ordinary animal sacrifice among the Greeks, Romans, 
and Semites. But even the crown of thorns had a special 
religious vogue in Egypt, procured as such crowns were 

^ There might be involved, again, a reminiscence of the crucifixion 
of the last independent king of the Jews, Antigonus, by Mark Antony. 
CM. 364. 



THE CENTRAL MYTH 53 

from thorn-trees near Abydos whose branches curled 
into garland-form. Prometheus the Saviour, too, receives 
from Zeus a crown of osiers ; and his worshippers wore 
crowns in his honour.^ Either some such special motive 
or the common practice in the popular rite will account 
for the record. 

And these items of the mock-king ritual exclude the 
argument which might possibly be brought from the 
fact that in the ancient world, as among primitives in 
general, all executions, as such, tend to assume the 
sacrificial form. The condemned criminal is '' devoted," 
sacer, taboo, even as is the simply sacrificed victim, 
becoming the appanage of the God as is the God's repre- 
sentative who is sacrificed to the God.^ It might there- 
fore be argued that a man condemned on purely political 
grounds could be treated as a sacrificial victim. But 
there is no instance of the criminal executed as such 
being treated as the mock-king. A criminal might be 
turned to that account, but that would be by special 
arrangement : executed simply as a criminal, he would 
not be crowned and royally robed. These details were 
features of specific sacrifices : executions were only 
generically sacrificial, and were of course in no way 
honorary. In the gospel story, the two thieves are 
neither mocked, robed, nor crowned. They are not 
'' Sons of the Father," or deputies of the King. 

§ 5. Doctrinal Additions 

The question here arises, however, whether the triple 
execution was a customary rite. All executions being, 
as aforesaid, quasi-sacrificial, an ordinary execution 

1 CM. 365. 

2 P.O. 130 sq., 363. Cp. Robertson Smith, Religion of the Semites, 
p. 391; Greenidge, Roman Public Life, p. 55, citing Pliny, H.N. xviii, 
iii, 12. 



54 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

might conceivably be combined with a specific sacrifice. 
It is to be observed that no mention of the triple execution 
occurs outside of the gospels : the Acts and the Epistles 
have no allusion to it. It is thus conceivably, as was 
hinted by Strauss, a late addition to the myth, motived 
by the verse now omitted as spurious from Mark (xv, 28), 
but preserved in Luke (xxii, 37) : " And the scripture was 
fulfilled which saith, And he was reckoned with trans- 
gressors." But we are bound to consider the possibility 
that the triple execution was ritually primordial. 

The story of such an execution in the " Acts of Saint 
Hitzibouzit," martyred at some time in Persia, is evi- 
dently doubtful evidence for the practice, as Sir J. G. 
Frazer observes. The record runs that the saint was 
" offered up as a sacrifice between two malefactors on a 
hill top opposite the sun and before all the multitude," ^ 
suggesting that the sacrifice was a solar one. This is 
possible ; but martyrology is dubious testimony. On the 
other hand Mr. W. R. Paton has suggested that the triple 
execution was a Persian practice, and was made to a triple 
God.^ There is the notable support of the statement in 
a fragment of Ctesias (36) that the Egyptian usurper 
Inarus was crucified by Artaxerxes the First between 
two thieves. In addition to the cases of Greek sacrifices 
of three victims may be noted one among the Dra vidians 
of Jeypore ; ^ and the practice among the Kionds of 
placing the victim between two shrubs. In the Jeypore 
case one victim was sacrificed at the east, one at the 
west, and one at the centre of a village ; and in another 
case two victims were sacrificed every third year. A 
triple execution might be a special event, in which two 

1 Apology and Acts of ApoUonius, etc., ed. by F. C. Conybeare, 1894, 
p. 270. Here Dr. Conybeare momentarily appears as a myth-theorist. 

2 Id. p. 258. » P.C. 115. 



THE CENTRAL MYTH 55 

victims were both actually and ritually criminals, in order 
to enhance the divinity of the third. And we know that 
triple sacrifices did occur. The throwing of Shadrach, 
Meshach, and Abednego into the fiery furnace was 
ostensibly a triple sacrifice : it will hardly be claimed 
as a historical episode in its subsisting form. 

On a careful balance, however, the presumption seems 
rather against a triple rite. What is quite clear is that 
for the early Jesuists the " prophecy " in 53rd Isaiah 
possessed the highest importance. For us, that lyric 
chapter is still somewhat enigmatic. Gunkel, who is 
here followed by Professor Drews, ^ takes the view that 
the suffering figure described is really that of the typical 
victim of the human sacrifice ; and it certainly fits that 
conception at points where it does not easily compose 
with that of the figure of oppressed Israel. ^ The victim 
was '' wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our 
iniquities "; and conceptually ''with his stripes we are 
healed." On the other hand, who were '' we " for 
'' Isaiah " if not Israel itself ? The only interpretation 
seems to be that the past generations had suffered for the 
present; and this does not yield an intellectually satis- 
fying figure. But still more improbable, on the whole, 
is the suggestion that the Hebrew prophet or quasi- 
prophetic lyrist — whatever date we may assign to the 
chapter — has really perceived and figured the tragic 
vision of the sacrificial victim as he is here supposed to 
have done. It would be a psychological feat e-xtremely 
remarkable even for that highly gifted writer ; ^ and more- 
over it would finally compose still less with the general 

1 The Christ Myth, Eng. trans, pp. 65-68. 

2 Cp. Cheyne, Introd. to Isaiah, 1895, pp. 304-5, as to Ewald's theory 
that Jeremiah may have been meant. 

^ So to be estimated whether he be *' the " Deutero-Isaiah or a song- 
writer whose work has been incorporated. Cp. Cheyne, as cited, 
and his art, Isaiah in Encyc. Bxb, 



56 THE JESUS PROBLEM 



idea of the context than does the supposed presentment of 
the suffering People. It is difficult to reach any satisfy- 
ing notion of Isaiah's general meaning on the view of 
Gimkel and Drews. 

We are thus far held, then, to the inference that, as 
Isaiah's chapter was certainly taken by the early 
Christists ^ who had adopted the Messianic idea to be a 
prophecy of their Messiah, the Christ myth was shaped 
in accordance with it. There are three main strands 
in the Christ myth, the Jesuist, the Christist or Messianic, 
and that of the Teaching God. The '' suffering " motive 
serves to bind the three together ; and the concrete item, 
*' he was numbered with the transgressors," bracketed as 
it is with '' he poured out his soul unto death," gives 
a very definite ground for the item of the forced com- 
panionship of the malefactors in the Crucifixion scene. 
It is, in short, apparently one of the specifically Judaic 
motives in the myth construction. Earlier in the nar- 
rative the Messiah is frequently grouped with " publicans 
and sinners " : he comes " eating and drinking," in 
contrast with the ascetic figure of the Baptist. That 
feature is probably part of the atmosphere of the myth- 
motive of the sacrificial victim, with the leper-host and 
the anointing by the '^ sinner." But the " two thieves " 
are inferribly supplied from another side. 

In the first two gospels, the character of the unnamed 
anointress is tacitly suggested by the very reticence of 
the description, '' a woman." In Jewry and in the East 

^ The terms " Christists " and " Jesuists " are, it need hardly be 
said, used for the sake of exactitude. The term "early C3hristians " 
would often convey a, different and misleading idea. There were 
Jesuists and Christists before the " Christian " movement arose. Dr. 
Conybeare pronounces such terms " jargon " {Hiator. Christ, p. 94). 
In the next line he illustrates the delicacy of his own academic taste 
by the terms " tag-rag and bobtail." Such slang abounds in his book, 
and this particular phrase recurs (p. 183). 



THE CENTRAL MYTH 57 

generally, the woman who went freely into men's houses 
was declassed; and the "sinner" of Luke was only a 
specification of the already hinted. But the story in 
Luke of the homage of the good thief is clearly new 
myth, coming of the widened ethic of the " gospel of the 
Gentries." Matthew and Mark have no thought of 
anything but the association of the Messiah with typical 
transgressors in death : for them the two thieves are 
hostile. The " Gentile " gospel improves the occasion 
by converting one of the transgressors. No critical 
inquirer, presumably, now fails to see doctrinal myth at 
the second stage. It is only the atmosphere of pre- 
supposition that can keep it imperceptible in the first. 
In the making of the gospels, ritual myth, doctrinal 
myth, and traditional myth are co -factors; and it may 
be that even where doctrinal myth is quite clearly at 
work, as in the staging of the Messianic death " with 
transgressors," an actual ritual is also commemorated. 

§ 6. Minor Ritual and Myth Elements 

In the later myth the robbers, as it happens, are made 
to embody certain features of sacrificial ritual. We are 
told in the fourth gospel that the Jews '' asked of Pilate 
that their legs might be broken, and that they might be 
taken away," — " that the bodies should not remain on 
the cross upon the sabbath, for the day of that sabbath 
was a high day." Accordingly the soldiers break the legs 
of the two thieves, " but when they came to Jesus, and 
saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs." 
The implication is that the men's legs were to be broken 
by way of killing them — a patently untrue suggestion. ^ 

^ It is interesting to note that in the Gospel of Peter one of the male- 
factors is represented as speaking to the Jews in defence of Jesus, 
whereupon they break his legs in vengeance. 



58 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

The spear-thrust which '' howbeit " was given to Jesus 
would have been the way of killing the others if they were 
alive : breaking the legs was a brutality which would 
not ensure death. 

The explanation is that both leg-breaking and spearing 
were features of sacrificial rites. It may have been by 
way of purposive contrast to the former procedure that 
in the priestly ritual ^ of the passover it is enacted that 
no bone of the (unspecified) victim shall be broken. 
The breaking of the leg-bones in human sacrifice was one 
of the horrible expedients of the primitive world for 
securing the apparent willingness of the victim : it is to 
be found alike in Dra vidian and in African sacrifice.^ 
An alternative method, which tended to supersede the 
other, was that of drugging or intoxication, of which we 
find still more widespread evidence. In ancient Jeru- 
salem, we find the practice transferred to ordinary execu- 
tion on the cross, the humane women making a practice 
of giving a narcotic potion of wine and incense to the 
victim.^ Thus associated with the deaths of ordinary 
criminals, it suggested to some of the Jesuist myth- 
makers a ground for specializing the record. 

In the first two gospels, a drink is offered to Jesus on 
the cross — wine ^ mingled with gall, in Matthew ; wine 
mingled with myrrh in Mark — " but he received it not " ; 
this, in Matthew, after tasting. The Marcan form is 
probably the first, as it describes the customary narcotic : 
the idea is to indicate that in the case of the divine victim 
no artifice was needed to secure an apparent acquiescence : 
he was a voluntary sufferer. " Gall," in Matthew, may 

1 Ex. xii, 46; Num. ix, 12. Cp. Ps. xxxiv, 20. 

2 P.C. 113, 156. 

^ Oranum turie in poculo vini, ut alienetur mens ejus. Talmud, tract. 
Sanhedrin. 

* Vinegar in the Alexandrian Codex. 



THE CENTRAL MYTH 59 

have reference to pagan mysteries in which a drink of gall 
figured.^ In Luke, vinegar is ostensibly ofEered as part 
of the derision. In John, no drink is mentioned till the 
end, when the dying victim says, " I thirst." Having 
partaken of '' a sponge full of the vinegar upon hyssop," 
he says, " It is finished," and dies. In Matthew, this act 
of compassion takes a simpler form, the sponge of vinegar 
being given on the utterance of the despairing cry, while 
other bystanders jeer : in Mark, the giver of the sponge 
also jeers. 

It is needless to debate long over the priorities of such 
details : as regards the drink of vinegar, all alike have 
regard to Psalm Ixix, 21 : '' They gave me also gall for 
my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to 
drink." For that reason, the wine-and-myrrh item is 
probably primordial : it tells of the sacrificial rite ; and 
the drink of vinegar is a doctrinal addition ; even as the 
rejection of the narcotic is doctrinal. For the variations 
which distinguish each narrative from the others, there 
is no reasonable explanation on the biographical view : 
if devoted onlookers could not preserve the truth at such 
a point, where could they be trusted ? The mythical 
interpretation alone makes aU intelligible. 

The fourth gospel, with its tale of the leg-breaking, 
supplies the strongest ground for surmising the occasional 
occurrence of a triple rite, in which the lesser victims 
were treated as sacrificed slaves normally have been in 
African and other human sacrifice, while the central 
victim was put on another footing. The express enact- 
ment in regard to the mysterious paschal sacrifice suggests 
that bone-breaking took place in others. In all likelihood, 
the original paschal sacrifice was that of a human victim 
of specially high grade : the substitution of the lamb 

1 CM. 367. 



60 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

was part of the process of civilization indicated in the myth 
of Abraham and Isaac. And if the knowledge of the 
death-rite of Jesus Barabbas could subsist in the first 
century or later, knowledge of an early triple rite could 
subsist also. But this remains open to doubt, though 
at several points the fourth gospel specially emphasizes 
the historical derivation of the cult from a sacrament of 
blood sacrifice. 

Nowhere else is the literal basis of the symbol of '' body 
and blood " so insisted upon. Its writers had present 
to their minds an actual ritual in which the eating of the 
body of a Sacrificed God, first actually, then symbolically, 
was of cardinal importance. The later myth puts new 
stress on the conception, as if it had been felt that the 
earlier was not sufficiently explicit ; and it makes the 
Jewish high-priest lay down the doctrine of human 
sacrifice from the Judaic side.^ It is in this atmosphere 
of sacrificial ideas that we get the item of the piercing of 
the divine victim with a spear. The detail is turned 
specially to the account of the Johannine doctrine of 
resurrection by putting what passed in popular physiology 
for a certain proof of death — the issuing of " blood and 
water." ^ But here again we find both a Hebrew motive ^ 
and a pagan motive for the detail. In the sacrifice of 
the sacred slave of the Moon-Goddess among the primitive 
Albanians, the victim was allowed the customary year 
of luxury and licence, and was finally anointed and slain 
by being pierced to the heart with a sacred lance through 
the side. And there are other eastern analogues.* 

It is the fourth gospel, finally, that introduces the 
''garment without seam,'' combining a Hebraic with a 

1 John xi, 50. 

2 See the whole question minutely discussed in Strauss, Pt. Ill, 
ch. iv, § 134. 

3 Zech. xii, 10. * P.C. 125-6. 



THE CENTRAL MYTH 6l 

pagan motive. In order to fulfil a '' prophecy " held to 
be Messianic/ the synoptics make the soldiers cast lots 
for, the garments of Jesus. The fourth gospel specifies 
a simple allotment of the garments in general, as if they 
could have been numerous enough to go round the 
soldiery, but limits the act of '' casting lots " to the 
chiton, the under garment. Thus the soldiers both 
" divide the raiment " and cast lots for the " vesture." 
The making of this " without seam " is at once an assimila- 
tion of Jesus to the high-priest and an assimilation of 
the Slain God to the Sun-God and other deities.^ A 
special chiton was woven for Apollo in Sparta ; as a 
peplos or shawl was woven for Here at Elis. And this in 
turn had for the pre-Christian pagans mystic meanings 
as symbolizing the indivisible solar robe of universal 
light, ascribed to Osiris ; the partless robe of Ahura 
Mazda ; Pan's coat of many colours, and yet other 
notions. Always the story is itemized in terms of myth, 
of ritual, of symbol, of doctrine, never in terms of real 
biography. 

§ 7. The Cross 

It is not at aU certain, and it is not probable, that in 
the earlier stages of the myth the cross as such was 
prominent. Early crucifixion was not always a nailing 
of outstretched hands in the cross form, but often a 
hanging of the victim by the arms, tied together at the 
wrists, with or without a support to the body at the 
thighs.^ The stauros was not necessarily a cross : it 
might be a simple pile or stake. In the Book of Acts 
(v, 30) Peter and the Apostles are made to speak of 
Jesus '' whom ye slew, hanging him on a tree." This 

^ Ps. xxii, 18. The citation in Mt. xxvii, 35 (omitted in B.V.) is 
a late interpolation, found in the Codex Sangallensis. 
2 CM. 380. » CM, 364. 



62 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

was in itself a common sacrificial mode ; and all sacrificial 
traditions are more or less represented in the New Testa- 
ment compilation. 

But there was an irresistible compulsion to a divinizing 
of the cross as of the victim. Ages before the Christian 
era the symbol had been mystic and sacrosanct for 
Semites, for Egyptians, for Greeks, for Hindus ; and the 
Sacred Tree of the cults of Attis, Dionysos, and Osiris 
lent itself alike to many symbolic significances.^ The 
cross had reference to the equinox, when the sacred tree 
was cut down ; to the victim bound to it ; to the four 
points of the compass ; to the zodiacal sign Aries, thus 
connected with the sacrificial lamb ; ^ and to the universe 
as symbolized in the '' orb " of the emperor, with the 
cross -lines drawn on it. The final Christian significance 
of the cross is a composite of ideas associated with it 
everywhere, from Mexico to the Gold Coast, in both of 
which regions it was or is a symbol of the Rain-God.® 
The Dravidian victim, the deified sacrifice, was as-it-were 
crucified ; * as was a victim in a Batak sacrifice, where, 
as on the Gold Coast, the St. Andrew's-cross form is 
enacted.^ The commonness of some such procedure in 
African sacrificial practice points to its general antiquity. 

It would appear, too, that in the mysteries of the 
Saviour Gods not only a crucified aspect of the God but 
a simulation of that on the part of the devotees was 
customary. Osiris was actually represented in crucifix 
form;® and in the ritual the worshipper became "one 
with Osiris," apparently by being '' joined unto the 

1 CM. 369 sq. ; P.O. 160 sq. ^ P.C. 319. ^ p.^. 161, 368, note. 

* P.C. 113, top. The preceding hypothesis with regard to the 
Meriah post is an error. Mr. H. G. Wood informs me he has learned 
from the Museum authorities at Madras that the apparent cross-bar 
was really a projection, representing the head of an elephant, to the 
trunk of which the victim was tied. 

6 P.C. App. A. e CM. 376. 



THE CENTRAL MYTH 63 

sycamore tree." ^ When, then, in the Epistle to the 
Galatians ^ we find " Paul " addressing the converts as 
" those before whose eyes Jesus Christ was openly set 
forth {nQosyqacpri) crucified,'' and declaring of himself : ^ 
** I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus," we are 
at once pointed to the Syrian practice of stigmata, which 
appears to connect with both Osirian and Christian usage. 
In his remarkable account of the life of the sacred 
city of Hierapolis — a microcosm of eastern paganism — 
Lucian, after telling how children are sacrificed with the 
votive pretence that they are oxen, records that it is the 
universal practice to make punctures in the neck or in 
the hands, and that '' all " Syrians bear such stigmata.^ 
One of the principal cults of the place was that of Attis, 
the castrated God of Vegetation, in whose mysteries the 
image of a youth was boimd to a tree,^ with a ritual 
of suffering, mourning, resurrection and rejoicing. As 
Dionysos was also "he of the tree," it is not improbable 
that he, who also died to rise again, may have been 
similarly adored. On the other hand, the representation 
of the Saviour Prometheus suffering in a crucified 
posture tells of an immemorial concept.® 

For the Jews, finally, the cross symbol was already 
mystically potent, being a mark of salvation in connection 
with the massacre-sacrifice of the Passover, and by 
consequence salvatory in times of similar danger.*^ When 
with this was combined the mystic significance of the 
sign in Platonic lore as pointing to the Logos,^ the mythic 
foundation for Christism was of the broadest. The 
crucifix is late in Christian art ; but the wayside cross is 
as old as the cult of Hermes, God of boundaries.^ 



1 P.O. 196. 


2 Gal. iii, 1. 


3 vi, 17. 


* De Dea Syria, 59. 


s CM, 373. 


« P.C 371. 


7 P.C. 157. 


8 CM. 375. 


9 Id. 377. 



64 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

§ 8. The Suffering Messiah 

By way of accounting for the Jewish refusal to see in 
Jesus the promised Messiah, orthodox exegesis has spread 
widely the belief that it was no part of the Messianic 
idea that the Anointed One should die an ignominious 
death ; and some of us began by accepting that account 
of the case. Clearly it was not the traditional or generally 
prevailing Jewish expectation. Yet in the Acts we find 
Peter and Paul alike (iii, 18; xvii, 3;' xxvi, 23) made to 
affirm that the prophets in general predicted that Christ 
should suffer; and in Luke (xxiv, 26-27, 44-46) the same 
assertion is put in the mouth of Jesus. Either then the 
exegetes regard these assertions as unfounded or they 
admit that one school of interpretation in Jewry found 
a number of '' prophetical " passages which foretold the 
Messiah's exemplary death. And the A.V. margin refers 
us to Ps. xxii ; Isa. 1, 6 ; liii, 5, etc. ; Dan. ix, 26. 

Now, these are adequate though not numerous docu- 
mentary grounds for the doctrine, on Jewish principles 
of interpretation. Jewish, indeed, the Messianic idea is 
not in origin : it is Perso -Babylonian ; ^ and the idea of 
a suffering or re-arising Messiah may well have come in 
from that side. But equally that may have found some 
Jewish acceptance. We can see very well that in Daniel 
" the Anointed One "—that is, " the Messiah " and '' the 
Christ " — refers to the Maccabean hero ; but that as well 
as the other passages, on Jewish principles, could apply 
to the Messiah of any period ; and the Septuagint reading 
of Psalm xxii, 16 : *' They pierced my hands and my 
feet," was a specification of crucifixion. It is not im- 
possible that that reading was the result of the actual 
crucifixion of Cyrus, who had been specified as a " Christ " 

1 P.C. 166. Cp. Drews, Christ Myth, 42. 



THE CENTRAL MYTH 65 

in Isaiah. We have nothing to do here with rational 
interpretation : the whole conception of prophecy is 
irrational ; but the construing of old texts as prophecies 
was a Jewish specialty. 

When then a theistic rationalist of the last generation 
wrote of the gospel Jesus : — 

His being a carpenter, occupying the field of barbaric 
Galilee, and suffering death as a culprit, are not features 
which the constructor of an imaginary tale would go out 
of his way to introduce wherewith to associate his hero, 
and therefore, probably, we have here real facts presented 
to us,^ 

he was far astray. Anything might be predicated of a 
Jewish Messiah. Not only had the Messianic Cyrus been 
crucified : the anointed and triumphant Judas Maccabseus, 
under whose auspices the Messianic belief had revived in 
Israel in the second century B.C., had finally fallen in 
battle ; and his brother Simon, who was actually regarded 
as the Messiah, was murdered by his son-in-law.^ 

It is not here argued that the Messianic idea had been 
originally connected with the Jesus cult ; on the contrary 
that cult is presented as a non-national one, surviving in 
parts of Palestine in connection with belief in an ancient 
deity and the practice of an ancient rite, in a different 
religious atmosphere from that of Messianism. The 
solution to which we shall find ourselves led is that at a 
certain stage the Messianic idea was grafted on the 
cultus ; and this stage is likely to have begun after the 
fall of Jerusalem, when for most Jews the hope of a 
Maccabean recovery was buried. Then it was that the 

1 Judge T. L. Strange, Contributions, etc., 1881 -. " The Portraiture 
and Mission of Jesus," p. 6. 

2 Cp. Charles, introd. to The Testaments of tha Twelve Patriarchs 
1908, p. xvi, as to John Hyrcanus. 

F 



66 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

idea of a Messiah ''from above," ^ supernaturally em- 
powered to make an end of the earthly scene, became the 
only plausible one ; and here the conception of a Slain 
God who, like all slain Gods, rose again, invited the 
development. Jesuists could now make a new appeal 
to Jews in general upon recognizably Jewish lines. They 
were of course resisted, even as Sadducees were resisted 
by Pharisees, and vice versa. The statement in the 
Messiah article in the Encyclopcedia Bihlica that it is 
highly improbable that '* the Jews " at the time of Christ 
believed in a suffering and atoning Messiah is nugatory. 
No one ever put such a proposition. But '' the Jews " 
had in course of time added much to their creed, and might 
have added this, were it not that the Jesus cult became 
identified with Gentile and anti- Judaic propaganda. 

In any case the idea arose among Jews, and quite 
intelligibly. The picture drawn by Isaiah was a standing 
incitement to the rise of a cult whose Hero-God had been 
slain. It was the one kind of Messianic cult which the 
Romans would leave unmolested. At the same time it 
committed the devotees to the position that the Messiah 
must come again, '' in the clouds, in great glory " ; and 
the Christian Church was actually established on that 
conception, which sufficed to sustain it till the earthly 
Providence of the State came to the rescue. Some of its 
modern adherents have not hesitated to boast that the 
common expectation of the speedy end of the world gave 
the infant Church a footing not otherwise obtainable. 
It was certainly a conditio sine qua non for Christianity 
in its infancy. 

As for the item of '' the carpenter," we have seen ^ not 

^ Cp. Charles, The Apocalypse of Baruch, 1896, pp. 52-53, notes. 
The Messiah, in the view there discussed, was to have been " con- 
cealed " — another cue for the evangelists. 

2 H.J. 153 sq. 



THE CENTRAL MYTH 67 

only that that is mythic, but that the myth-theory alone 
can accoimt for it. 

§ 9. The Rock Tomb 

In the first gospel (xxvii, 51 sq,) we have a comparatively 
simple version of the story of Joseph of Arimathea, a 
rich disciple of Jesus, who gets the dead body of the 
crucified, wraps it in clean linen, and lays it '' in his own 
new tomb, which he had hewed out in the rock." In 
Mark and Luke we have visibly elaborated accounts, in 
which, however, while the rock tomb is specified, it is not 
described as Joseph's " own," though it is represented 
as hitherto unused. Such a narrative points very directly 
to the Mithraic rite in which the stone image of the dead 
God, after being ritually mourned over, is laid in a tomb, 
which, Mithra being " the God out of the rock," would 
naturally be of stone — a simple matter in a cult whose 
chief rites were always enacted in a cave.^ Details thus 
thrown into special prominence, while in themselves 
historically insignificant, can be understood only as 
mythically motived. So noticeable is the Mithraic parallel 
that the Christian Father who angrily records it exclaims, 
Hahet ergo didbolus Christos suoa — " the devil thus has his 
Christs." In Mithraism the rock tomb, which is an 
item in a ritual of death and resurrection, is mythically 
motived throughout : in the gospel story, historically 
considered, the item is meaningless. 

Obvious as is the mythological inference, it is met by 

the assertion that round Jerusalem " soil was so scarce 

that every one was buried in a rock tomb." ^ Such a 

criticism at once defeats itself. If every one was buried 

in a rock tomb, what was the point of the emphasised 

1 P.O. 304-6, 316-18; CM. 331 and note. 
^ Conybeare, Historical Chriat, p. 19. 



68 THE JESUS PEOBLEM 

detail in the gospels, which are so devoid of details of 
a really biographical character ? Obviously, rock tombs 
were the specialty of the rich ; and Joseph of Arimathea 
is described in all the sjmoptics as a man of social standing. 
Is the motive of the story nothing better than the desire 
to record that Jesus was richly buried? 

'' Scores of such tombs remain," cries the critic ; 
'' were they all Mithraic ? " The argument thus evaded 
is that there was no real tomb. If there was one thing 
which the early Jesuists, on the biographical theory, 
might be supposed to keep hold of, it was the place of 
their Lord's sepulchre; yet nothing subsists but an 
admittedly false tradition. At Jerusalem, as one has 
put it, there are shown " two Zions, two Temple areas, 
two Bethanys, two Gethsemanes, two or more Calvarys, 
three Holy Sepulchres, several Bethesdas." ^ It is all 
myth. " There is not a single existing ,site in the Holy 
City that is mentioned in connection with Christian 
history before the year 326 a.d., when Constantine's 
mother adored the two footprints of Christ on Olivet." ^ 
She was shown nothing else.^ " The position of the 
traditional sites of Calvary and the Holy Sepulchre, in 
the middle of the north quarter of Jerusalem, seems to 
have given rise to suspicions very early." * It well might. 
I have known a modem traveller who, on seeing the 
juxtaposed sites, at once realized that he was on the 
scene, if of anything, of an ancient ritual, not of events 
such as are narrated in the gospels. The traditional 
Golgotha is only fifty or sixty yards away from the 
Sepulchre;^ and near by is '* Mount Moriah," upon 

^ Col. Conder, The City of Jerusalem, 1909, p. 3, citing Rix. 

2 Id. p. 9. 

3 Id. p. 10; Eusebiios, Life of Constantine, iii, 42. 
* Conder, p. 13. 

^ Walter Menzies, Notes of a Holiday Excursion, 1897, p. 89. 



THE CENTRAL MYTH 69 

which Abraham is recorded to have sought to sacrifice 
Isaac. 

Colonel Conder, who accepts without misgiving all four 
gospel narratives, and attempts to combine them, avows 
that the " Garden Tomb " chosen by General Gordon, 
in the latterly selected Calvary, is impossible, being 
probably a work of the twelfth century ; ^ and for his 
own part, while inclined to stand by the new Golgotha, 
avows that " we must still say of our Lord as was said 
of Moses, ' No man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this 
day.' " ^ Placidly he concludes that '' it is well that we 
should not know." ^ But what does the biographical 
theory make of such a conclusion ? Its fundamental 
assumption is that of Renan, that the personality of Jesus 
was so commanding as to make his disciples imagine his 
resurrection. In elaborate and contradictory detail we 
have the legends of that ; and yet we find that all trace 
of knowledge alike of place of crucifixion and tomb had 
vanished from the Christian community which is alleged 
to have arisen immediately after his ascension. The 
theory collapses at a touch, here as at every other point. 
There is no more a real Sepulchre of Jesus than there is 
a real Sepulchre of Mithra ; and the bluster which offers 
the solution that at Jerusalem every one was buried in a 
rock tomb is a mere closing of the eyes to the monumental 
fact of the myth. 

The critic is all the while himself committed to the 
denial that there was any tomb. Professing to foUow 
the suggestion * of M. Loisy that Jesus was thrown into 
'' some common foss," which in his hands becomes " the 
common pit reserved for crucified malefactors,'' he affirms ^ 

^ Work cited, pp. 154-5. 2 /^Z. p. 156. ^ j^ p 14Q 

* " II est 4 supposer," are M. Loisy's words. Jdsus et la trad, ivanq., 
p. 107. 

^ Myth, Magic, and Morals, 2nd edit. p. 297. 



70 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

that " the words ascribed in Acts xiii, 29, to Paul certainly 
favour the Abbe's view." They certainly do not. The 
text in question runs : 

And when they had fulfilled all things that were written 
of him they took him down from the tree, and laid Mm in 
a tomb. 

The Greek word is juvrjjLietov — that used in the gospel 
story. There is thus no support whatever either for the 
suggestion of a common foss " or for the allegation about 
" the common pit reserved for cruciiBed malefactors " — 
a wholly unwarranted figment. The second *^ they " 
of the sentence is indefinite : it may mean either the Jews 
of the previous sentence or another " they " : but either 
way it expressly posits a tomb. Yet after this deliberate 
perversion of the document, which of course he does not 
quote, the critic proceeds (p. 302) to aver that '' the 
genuine tradition of Jesus having been cast by his enemies 
into the common pit reserved for malefactors . . . survived 
among the Jews ' ' ; and that the tomb story was invented 
as *' the most effective way of meeting" the imagined 
statement. Such an amateur inventor of myth is 
naturally resentful of mythological tests ! 

§ 10. The Resurrection 

If a suffering Messiah was arguable for the Jews, his 
resurrection after death was a matter of course. The 
biographical theory, that the greatness of the Founder's 
personality led his followers to believe that he must rise 
again, is historically as unwarrantable as any part of the 
biographical case. The death and resurrection of the 
Saviour-God was an outstanding feature of all the most 
popular cults of the near East ; Osiris, Herakles, Dionysos, 
Attis, Adonis, Mithra, all died to rise again ; and a ritual 



THE CENTRAL MYTH 71 

of burial, mourning, resurrection, and rejoicing was com- 
mon to several. On any view such rituals were established 
in other contemporary cults ; and it is this fact that makes 
it worth while in this inquiry to glance at a myth which is 
now abandoned by all save the traditionally orthodox. 

On the uncritical assumption that nothing but pure 
Judaism could exist in Jewry in the age of the Herods, the 
notion of a dying and re-arising Hero-God was impossible 
among Jews save as a result of a stroke of new construc- 
tive faith. That simple negative position ignores not 
only the commonness of the belief in immortality among 
Jews (the Pharisees aU held it) before the Christian era, 
but the special Jewish beliefs in the '' translation " of 
Moses and Elijah, and the story of Saul, the witch of 
Endor, and the spirit of Samuel. The very belief that the 
risen Elias was to be the forerunner of the Messiah was a 
lead to the belief that the Messiah himself might come 
after a resurrection. 

But it is practically certain that a liturgical resurrection 
was or had been practised in contemporary cults which 
had at one time enacted an annual sacrifice of the repre- 
sentative of the God, abstracted in myth as the death of 
the God himself. And in our own time the survival of 
an analogous practice has been noted in India. At the 
installation of the Rajahs of Keonjhur it was anciently 
the practice for the Rajah to slay a victim : latterly 
there is a mock-slaying, whereupon the mock-victim dis- 
appears. '' He must not be seen for three days ; then 
he presents himself to the Rajah as miraculously restored 
to life." 1 

1 (?.S.iv, 56. Op. 154. 



Chapter III 
ROOTS OF THE MYTH 

§ 1. Historical Data 

It does not follow from the proved existence of mystery- 
dramas in pagan cults in the Roman empire in the first 
century, c.E., that the Jesuists had a similar usage; but 
when we find in the New Testament an express reference to 
such parallelism, and in the early Fathers a knowledge that 
such parallels were drawn, we are entitled to ask whether 
there is not further evidence. When ''Paul" ^ tells his 
adherents : '' Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the 
cup of daimons : ^ ye cannot partake of the table of the 
Lord and of the table of daimons," he is complaining that 
some converts are wont to partake indifferently of the 
pagan and Christian sacraments. Few students now, 
probably, will assent to the view that the " tables of dai- 
mons," with their similar rites, were sudden imitations 
of the Christian sacraments. They were of old standing. 
But the Jesuist rite also was in all likelihood much older, 
in some form, than the Christian era. 

If there is any principle of comparative mythology that 
might fairly have been claimed as generally accepted by 

1 1 Cor. X, 21. I say "Paul" as I say *' Matthew " or "John," 
for brevity's sake, not at all as accepting the ascriptions of the books. 
Van Manen's thesis that all the Epistles of " Paul " are pseudepigraphic 
is probably very near the truth. 

* The retention of " devils " in the Revised Version, with " Gr. 
demons " only in the margin, is an abuse. For the Greeks, there were 
good daimons as well as bad ; and " demon " is not the real equivalent 
of " daimon." 

72 



ROOTS OF THE MYTH 73 

experts a generation ago, it is that " the ritual is older 
than the myth : the myth derives from the ritual, not 
the ritual from the myth." ^ This principle, expressly 
posited by himself as by others before him. Sir James 
Frazer resolutely puts aside when he comes to deal with 
the Christian mythus. Disinterested science cannot assent 
to such a course. 

That there were " tables " in the cults of many Gods 
is quite certain : temple-meals for devotees seem to 
have been normal in Greek religion ; ^ and in the cults 
of the Saviour-Gods there were special collocations of 
sacramental meals with "mysteries." In particular, 
apart from the famous Eleusinian mysteries there were 
customary dramatic representations of the sufferings and 
death of the God in the cults of Osiris, Adonis, Attis, and 
Dionysos : in addition to a scenic representation of the 
death of Herakles ; and a special system of symbolic 
presentation of the life of the God in the rites of initiation 
of the worship of Mithra.^ It is not to be supposed that 
these religious representations amounted to anything like a 
complete drama, such as those of the great Attic theatre. 
Rather they represented early stages in the evolution 
which ended in Greek drama as we know it. Nearer 
analogues are to be found in the religious plays of various 
savage races in our own time.^ What the mystery-plays 
in general seem to have amounted to was a simple 
representation of the life and death of the God, with a 
sacramental meal. 

The common objection to the hypothesis even of an 
elementary mystery -play in the pre-gospel stages of 

1 CM. 179, note. 

2 Cp. Athenseus, vi, 26-27; Schomann, Griechische Alterthumtr, 
3te Aufl. ii, 418-19; Foucart, Des associations religievsesy 50-52; 
Miss Harrison, ThemiSf p. 164; Menzies, History of Religion, p. 292. 

3 P.O. 194 sq., 306; G,M. 381, note. * Q.B. ix, 374 sq. 



74 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

Jestiism is that Hebrew literature shows no dramatic 
element, the Jews being averse from this as from other 
artistic developments of religious instinct. To this we 
reply, first, that the mystery-play, as distinguished from 
the primary sacrament, may or may not have been defi- 
nitely Jewish at the outset ; and that the drama as seen 
developed in the supplement to the gospels is certainly 
manipulated by Gentile hands. But the objection is in 
any case invalid, overlooking as it does : 

1. The essentially dramatic character of the Song of 
Solomon. 

2. The partly dramatic character of the Book of 
Job. 

3. The dramatic form of the celebration of Purim. 

4. The existence in the Hellenistic period of theatres at 
Damascus, Csesarea, Gadara, Jericho and Scythopolis, the 
first two being, as we learn from Josephus, built by Herod 
the Great. 

5. The chronic pressure of Hellenistic culture influence 
upon Jewish culture for centuries. 

6. The prevalence of Greek culture influence at the 
city of Samaria, Damascus, Gaza, Scythopolis, Gadara, 
Panias (Csesarea Philippi). 

7. The '* half -heathen " character of the districts of 
Trachonitis, Batanea, and Auranitis, east of the Lake 
of Gennesareth.^ Galilee, be it remembered, was late 
conquered " heathen " territory. 

8. The long and deeply hostile sunderance, after the 

^ On the points enumerated under heads 4-7 see Schiirer, Jewish 
People in the Time of Christy Eng. tr. Div. II, i, 11-36. In regard to my 
former specification of such influences [P.O. 204), Dr. Conybeare 
alleges (p. 49) that I " hint " that the Jesuist mystery-play was per- 
formed ' in the temples (sic) built by Herod at Damascus and Jericho, 
and in the theatres of the Greek town at Gadara." This cannot be 
regarded as one of Dr. Conybeare's hallucinations : it is one of his 
random falsifications. No " hint " of the kind was ever given. The 
mystery-play is always represented by me as secretly performed. 



ROOTS OF THE MYTH 75 

Return, between the priestly and rabbinical classes and 
the common people of the provinces.^ 

9. The '' resuscitation of obsolete mysteries " among 
the Jews, and the known survival of private sacraments 
and symbolic sacrifices of atonement.^ 

10. The actual production of dramatic Greek poetry 
on Biblical subjects by the Jewish poet Ezechiel (2nd c. 
B.c.).^ 

The eighth item needs to be specially insisted upon. It 
is frequently asserted that nothing in the nature of a 
heteroclite cult could subsist continuously in Jewry ; that 
there were no religious ideas in the Jewish world save those 
of the Sacred Books of the Rabbis.^ This is a historical 
delusion. The historical and prophetic books of the Old 
Testament affirm a constant resort to pagan rites and 
Gods before the Exile. There is official record of bitter 
strife and sunderance between those of the Return and 
the people they found on the soil. Malachi sounds the 
note of strife, lamenting popular lukewarmness, sacrilege 
and unbelief. The simple fact that after the Exile Hebrew 
was lio longer the common language, and that the people 
spoke Aramaic or '' Chaldee," tells of a highly artificial 
relation between hierarchy and populace. Never can 
even Judsea have been long homogeneous. " Neither in 
Galilee nor Persea must we conceive of the Jewish element 
as pure and unmixed. In the shifting course of history 
Jews and Gentiles had been here so often, and in such a 
variety of ways, thrown together, that the attainment 
of exclusive predominance by the Jewish element must 
be counted among the impossibilities. It was only in 
Judsea that this was at least approximately arrived at 

1 Cp. Ezra and Nehemiah. 2 pQ 168 sq. 

® Schiirer, as cited, iii, 225. 

* Thus Dr. Conybeare, constantly. Upon his view, the Essenes can 
never have existed. 



76 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

by the energetic agency of the scribes during the course of 
a century." ^ 

The assumption commonly made is that all Jews and 
'' naturalized " Jews were of one theistic way of thinking, 
like orthodox Christians, and, like these, could not imagine 
any other point of view. If for that entirely one-sided 
conception the inquirer will even substitute one in terms 
of the mixed realities of life in Christendom he will be 
much nearer the truth. Over and above the hatreds 
between sects and factions holding by the same formulas 
and Sacred Books, there were in Jewry the innovators, 
then as now : the minds which varied from the document- 
ary norm in all directions, analogues of the devotees of 
" Christian Science," Babists, British Buddhists, Sweden- 
borgians. Shakers, Second Adventists, Mormons, and so 
on, who from a more or less common basis radiated to all 
the points of the compass of creed. What faces us in the 
rise of Christianity is the development of one of those 
variants, on lines of adaptation to popular need, with an 
organization on lines already tested in the experience of 
Judaism. 

Among the common cravings of the age was the need 
for a near God,^ one ostensibly more in touch with human 
sorrows and sufferings than the remote Supreme God. 
For the earlier Hebrews, Yahweh was a tribal God like 
Moloch or Chemosh, fighting for his people (when they 
deserved it) like other tribal Gods ; a magnified man who 
talked familiarly with Abraham and Sarah, and wrestled 
with Jacob.^ Even then, the attractions of other cults 
set up constant resort to them by many Yahwists, unless 

^ Schiirer, as cited, i, 3-4. 

2 Cp. Gunkel, Zum Verat&ndnis des N.T., as cited, p. 20. 

3 The later documentists in such cases substituted an angel; but 
that was certainly not the early idea. See CM. 112; Etheridge, 
Targums on the Pentateuch, i, 1862, p. 5. 



ROOTS OF THE MYTH 77 

the historical Sacred Books are as illusory upon this as 
upon other topics. To say nothing of the continual 
charges against Jewish kings, from Solomon downwards, 
of setting up alien worships, and the express assertion 
of Jeremiah ^ that in Judah there were as many Gods as 
cities, and in Jerusalem as many Baal altars as streets, we 
have the equally explicit assertion in EzekieP that '* women 
weeping for Tammuz " were to be seen in or at the Temple 
itself. Now, Tammuz was a Semitic deity, borrowed, 
it would seem, from the Akkadians,^ an original or variant 
of Adonis, the very type of the Saviour-God we are now 
tracing. Tammuz, like Jesus, was '' the only-begotten 
son." If it be argued that the worship of Tammuz must 
have disappeared during or after the Exile, since it would 
not be tolerated in the Second Temple, the answer is 
that Saint Jerome expressly declares that in his day the 
pagans celebrated the worship of Tammuz at the very 
cave in which Jesus was said to have been bom at Beth- 
lehem * — a detail of some significance in our inquiry. 
Tammuz = Adonis = " the Lord." That worship, in- 
deed, might conceivably be a revival occurring after the 
fall of Jerusalem ; but to say that there can have been no 
folklore about Tammuz in Jewry or Galilee or Samaria 
between the time of Ezekiel and that of Jerome would be 
to make an utterly unwarranted assertion. The belief 
may even have survived under another God-name. 

[Among the many obscurations of history set up by pre- 
suppositions is that which rules out all evidence for com- 
munity of source in myths save that of philology, the 
most precarious of all proofs. The argument on this 
subject has been conducted even by opposing schools of 
philology as if all alike believed that every God, like every 
man, is an entity with a name, traceable by his name, 

1 Jer. xi, 13. ^ Ez^k. viii, 14. ^ p(j^ i62. * P.C. 321. 



78 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

and remaining substantially unchanged in his attributes 
through the ages. When Max Miiller propounded such 
derivations as that of Zeus from the Sanskrit Dyaus, some 
scholars for whom Sanskrit was occult matter observed 
a respectful deference, while others debated whether the 
derivations were philologically sound. To mythological 
science, strictly speaking, it mattered little whether they 
were or were not. God-ideas may pass with little change 
from race to race through contacts of conquest, the 
attached God-names changing alike for " absorbed " 
races and for those which *' absorb " them, whereas other 
God-names may endure with little change for ages while 
the attributes connected with them are being continuously 
modified, and the tales told under them are being per- 
petually added to, and many are dismissed. The Zeus 
of the Hiad is probably a wholly disparate conceptual 
figure from the Dyaus of the early " Aryan," supposing 
the names to be at bottom the same vocable. The philo- 
logical fact is one thing, the mythological fact another. 

Writers like Dr. Conybeare, who have never even 
realized the nature of a mythological problem, bewilder 
their readers by blusterously affirming that there can be 
no homogeneity between myth-conceptions unless the 
names attached to them in different regions and by differ- 
ent races are etymologically akin. They irrationally ask 
for linguistic '* equations " where a linguistic equation 
by itself would count for nothing, the relevant fact being 
the equation of the myth -concepts. Blind to the salient 
facts that every '' race " concerned had undergone muta- 
tion by conquest; that God-names and God-ideas alike 
passed from race to race by intermarriages,^ by the effects 
of enslavement, and by official adoption ; ^ and that 
conquering races constantly adopted wholly or partly 
the *' Gods " of the conquered,^ they in effect assume that 
God-names and God-concepts are fixed entities, traceable 

^ E.g. the Biblical accounts of the adoption of Canaanite Gods by 
Israelites who married Canaanite women. 

^ E.g. the special adoption of Greek deities by Romans, apart from 
the political practice of enrolling deities of conquered States in the 
Roman Pantheon. 

3 SM.F. i, 44-45. 



ROOTS OF THE MYTH 79 

solely by glossology. As if glossology could possibly 
pretend to trace, even on its own ground, all the trans- 
formations of proper-names and appellatives through 
different races and languages. The pretence that these 
are on all fours with the general development of language 
is mere scientific charlatanism. 

What mythology has to consider is the filiation and 
interconnection of myth-concepts. This is so pervading 
a process that even Max Miiller, after denying that there 
could have been any " crossing " between Vedic and alien 
lines of thought in respect of the closely similar Baby- 
lonian fire-cult and that of Agni, consented to identify 
the Indian Soma, God of Wine, with the Moon-God 
Chandra.^ The transmutations of a cognate myth-con- 
cept xuider the names of Dionysos (who has a hundred 
other epithets) and of the Latin Liber, constitute a mytho- 
logical process which philology cannot elucidate. The 
scientifically traceable facts are the prevalence and trans- 
lation of such concepts as Wine-God, Sun-God, War-God, 
Moon-God, Love-Goddess, Mother Goddess, Babe-God, 
through many races and regions. One myth -factor of 
great importance, unrecognized by many who dogmatize 
on such problems, is that of the infiuence of sculpture,^ 
through which such figures as that of the Mother-Goddess 
become common property for many lands, setting up 
community of belief on one line irrespective of prevailing 
theologies. And it is quite certain that as the nations 
came to know more and more of each other's Gods they 
borrowed traits and tales, thus assimilating the general 
concepts attached to wholly different names. 

Seeing, then, further, that, as in the case of Yahweh, 
it was often a point of religious taboo that a deity should 
not be called by " his real name," and that nearly all had 
many epithets, there was no limit to the interaction and 
mutation of cults and God-norms. The exact derivation 
and history of the worship of Tammuz in Jewry no one 
can pretend to know ; and no one therefore can pretend to 
know that it was not interlinked with other cults of names 
associated with sets of attributes, rites, and tales. Li view 

1 S.H.F. i, 48-49. 2 q.M. 35, and note. 



80 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

of the idle declamation on the subject, it seems positively 
necessary to remind the reader that even if he believes in 
the historicity of Jesus he is not therefore entitled to 
assume the historicity of Tammuz-Dumzi-Adonis, or 
Myrrha, or Miriam, or Joshua ; and that if he recognizes 
any connection, in terms of attributes, between the God- 
concepts Mars and Ares, or Zeus and Jupiter, or Aphrodite 
and Venus, or Artemis and Diana, and does not in these 
cases fall back upon the nugatory thesis of '' two different 
deities," he is not entitled to do so over the suggestion 
that one popular Syrian cult of a Lord-name may have 
connected with another. There is really need here for a 
little critical vigilance, not to say psychological analysis.] 

Even if we assume the earlier Jewish cult of Tammuz 
to have been swept away in the Captivity, the new con- 
ditions would tend to stimulate similar popular cults. 
When, after the Exile, the conception of Yahweh began 
xmder Perso -Babylonian influences to alter in the direction 
of a universalist theism, the common tendency to seek a 
nearer God was bound to come into play. There is no 
more imiversal feature in religious history than the re- 
cession of the High Gods.^ The more ** supreme " a 
deity becomes, in popular religion, the more generally 
does popular devotion tend to elicit Son-Gods or Goddesses 
who seem more likely to be " hearers and answerers of 
prayer." Sacred Books certainly tend to check such 
a reversion ; and in Islam the check has been successful 
in virtue of the very fact that Allah, like the early Yahweh, 
is in effect conceived as a racial God, or God of a single 
cult. But the tendency is seen at work all over the earth. 

The vogue of Apollo, of Dionysos, of Herakles, of Tam- 
muz-Adonis, of Krishna, of Buddha, of Balder, of Athene, 
of the Virgin Mary, of the countless deities propitiated by 
savage peoples who ignore their Supreme Gods, are all 

^ See many details in CM. pp. 52-57. 



ROOTS OF THE MYTH 81 

testimonies to the natural craving of religious ignorance 
for a near God. The same craving certainly subsisted 
among the Hebrews in so far as it was not completely 
laid by organized legalism. And seeing that the redac- 
tors of the Sacred Books had actually reduced many 
early deities — Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Daoud = David, 
Moses, Joshua, and Samson — to the status of patriarchs 
and heroes,^ the craving would among some be relatively 
strengthened. Jews who in time of trouble chronically 
reverted to alien Gods and alien rites, even as did the 
Greeks and Romans, could not conceivably fail altogether 
to adopt or cherish cults analogous to those of Dionysos, 
Adonis, Osiris, so popular among the neighbouring peoples. 
The hypothesis forced upon us by the whole history, 
then, is that there had subsisted in Jewry, in original con- 
nection with a sacrificial rite of Jesus the Son of the Father, 
a Sacrament of a Hero-God Jesus, whose Name was strong 
to save. If it took the form of a Sacrament of Twelve, 
with the ritual-representative of the God, it would be 
closely analogous to the traditional Sacrament of Twelve 
in which Aaron [the Anointed One = Messiah] and the 
[twelve] elders of Israel '' ate bread with Moses' father-in- 
law before God." ^ Behind that narrative lies a ritual 
"practice. A sacrament of bread and wine is further 
indicated in the mention of the mythic Melchisedek, 
" King of Peace " and priest of " El Elyon," ^ '' without 
father and without mother, without genealogy, having 
neither beginning of days or end of life, but made like unto 
the Son of God," who thus became for Christists a type of 
Jesus. ^ A sacramental banquet of twelve seems to have 

^ Refs. in P.G. 51, note 6. ,r>r. Conybeare (pp. 29, 30) meets such 
concltisions of scholars (Stade, Winckler, Sayce, etc.) by excluding 
them from his list of " serious Semitic scholars." 

2 Exod. xviii, 12. 

3 Gen. xiv, 18 ; Ps. ex, 4. 

* Heb. vii, 3. Cp. v, 6, 10; vii, 11, 17. 
G 



82 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

been involved in the sacrificial ritual of the Temple itself, 
where a presiding priest and twelve others daily officiated.^ 

That Galilean or other Jews or semi-Jews, always in a 
partly hostile relation to priests, scribes, and Pharisees, 
should in an age of chronic war, disaster and revolution, 
maintain an old private sacrament, with a subordinate 
worship of a Hero-God Jesus whose body and blood had 
once literally and now symbolically brought salvation, 
is not an imlikely but a likely hypothesis. The gospels 
themselves indicate an attitude of demotic hostility alike 
to the king, the priests, the scribes, the Pharisees, and the 
Sadducees. It is not pretended that before and apart from 
Jesus there was no such hostility, and that he generated it 
by his teaching. In a united community such hostility 
could not be so generated. It was there to start with. 
If then cults of Dionysos and Attis and Adonis, the 
annually dying and suffering demigods, could openly 
subsist in the Hellenistic world alongside of the State 
cults of Zeus and the other chief Gods, a secret cult of a 
Hero-God Jesus could subsist in some part of Jewry, with 
its survivals of rural paganism and its many contacts and 
mixtures with Samaritan schism and Hellenistic culture. 
Yet further, if the popular needs of the Hellenistic world 
could elicit and maintain a multitude of private religious 
associations, each with its own sacramental meal,^ the 
same needs could elicit and maintain them elsewhere. 

To this thesis it is objected that we have no mention of 

the existence of a Jesus cult of any kind in the Hebrew 

books. But that is a necessity of the case. The Sacred 

Books would naturally exclude all mention of a cult which 

in effect meant the continued deification of Joshua,^ who 

had long been reduced to the status of a mere hero in 

1 P.O. 179. 2 ^_^_ 115. Hatch, Hibbert Lectures, p. 291 aq. 

3 Or Jehoshua — the Hebrew name of which lesous is the Greek 
equivalent. 



ROOTS OF THE MYTH 83 

the history. That Joshua is a non-historical personage 
has long been established by modem criticism.^ That 
he did not do what he is said in the Book of Joshua 
to have done is agreed by all the " higher " critics. Who 
or what then was Joshua ? He is in many respects the 
myth-duplicate of Moses, whose work he repeats, passing 
the Jordan as did Moses the Bed Sea, appointing his 
twelve, *' renewing" the rite of circumcision, and writing 
the law upon stones. But he notably excels Moses in that 
he causes the sun and moon to stand still by his word ; ^ 
and as this is cited from '' Jasher," he is possibly the 
older figure of the two. 

And for the Jews he retained a special status. In his 
Book he is made (with a '' thus saith the Lord ") to give 
a list of the conquests effected by him against " the 
Amorite, and the Perizzite, and the Canaanite, and the 
Hittite, and the Girgashite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite." 
In Exodus XX, this very list of conquests, barring " the 
Girgashite," is promised, with this prelude : — 

Behold, I [Yahweh] send an angel before thee, to keep 
thee by the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have 
prepared. Take ye heed of him, and hearken unto his voice : 
provoke him not, for he will not pardon your transgression ; 
for my name is in Mm. 

The Angel who possesses or embodies the secret or 
magical name ^ is to do what Joshua in the historical myth 
says has been done under his leadership : ^ both passages 
stand. Further, the Angel of the passage in Exodus is 
in the Talmud identified with the mystic Metatron,^ 
who corresponds generally with the Logos of Plulo Judseus, 

1 P.C. 163. 

2 The miracle of hastening the sun's setting is in Homer (E. xviii, 239) 
assigned to Hdr6, the chief Goddess. 

3 P.C. 220. 

* Josh. V, 13~15is clearly late. In ch.xxiv the anffelia not mentioned, 
s P.O. 314, 315. 



84 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

the Sophia or Power of the Gnostics, and the Nous of 
Plotinus. The eminent Talmudic scholar, Emmanuel 
Deutsch, surmised that the Metatron is '' most probably 
nothing but Mithra," the Persian Sun-God; and as the 
promised Divine One in the Septuagint version of Isaiah, 
ix, 6, bears the Mithraic titles of " Angel of Great Counsel " 
and Judge, there is perhaps ground for some such surmise. 
It may have been, indeed, that the redactors of the sacred 
books originally meant to substitute the Angel for Joshua 
in the esteem of the people, giving the former the credit 
for the exploits of the latter ; but such a manipulation 
would be in itself a confession of Joshua's renown. And 
in the Samaritan Targums *' the Angel of God " commonly 
stood for the divine names Jehovah and Elohim.^ 

However that may be, the pseudo -historical Joshua 
could not have been elevated by the Talmudists to a divine 
status in other regards had he been a historical personage ; 
and when we find him specially honoured in Samaria ^Ve 

1 Etheridge, The Targums on the Pentatettchf 1862, p. 5. 

* The Samaritans have a late book ascribing to him many feats not 
given in the Jewish records. Concerning this Professor Drews wrote 
{Ghriat Myth, p. 57, note) : — " The Samaritan Book of Joshua (Chronicon 
Samaritanum, pubhshed 1848) was written in Arabic dm*ing the thir- 
teenth century. in Egypt, and is based upon an old work compiled in 
the third century b.o." Dr. Conybeare {Hist. Christ, p. 33) declares 
the last statement to be " founded on pure ignorance," adding : " and 
the Encyclopaedia Biblica declares it to be a medieval production of 
no value to anyone except the student of the Samaritan sect under Mos- 
lem rule." Be it observed (1) that Dr. Drews had actually described the 
book as a medieval production; (2), that his whole point was that it 
was legendary, not historical; and (3) that the Ency. Bib. article, 
which bears out both propositions, uses no such language as Dr. Cony- 
beare ascribes to it after the word " production," and says nothing 
whoever on the hypothesis that the book is founded on a compilation 
of the third century B.C. That hypothesis, framed by Hebraists, is one 
upon which Dr. Conybeare has not the slightest right to an opinion. 
Dr. A. E. Cowley, in the Encyc. Brit., describes the book as derived from 
" soin-ces of various dates." That being so. Dr. Conybeare, who as 
usual has wholly failed to understand what he is attacking, has never 
touched the position, which is that Joshua legends so flourished among 
the Samaritans that they are preserved in a medieval book — unless he 
means to allege that the legends are of medieval invention, a proposition 
which, indeed, would fitly consummate his excursion. 



ROOTS OF THE MYTH 85 

can draw no inference save that he was once a Palestinian 
deity. The fact that the name means " Saviour " ^ is of 
capital importance. In Jewish tradition and in his Book 
he is specially associated with the choosing of the Paschal 
lamb, the rite of the Passover, and the rite of circumcision.^ 
Here then is the presumptive God for the early rite of 
Jesus the Son of the Father. As we shall see later, '' the 
Angel of the Lord " is found to equate with *' the Word of 
the Lord " — another cue for the gospel-makers. And in 
the Jewish New Year liturgy, to this day, Joshua-Jesus 
figures as the " Prince of the Presence," which again is 
supposed to identify him with Metatron as = //era 
Oqovov, " behind the throne." Only as a Palestinian 
deity thus subordinated to Yahweh is he explicable. And 
as the ''Angel of the Presence" again occurs in Isaiah, 
Ixiii, 9, figuring as Saviour and Redeemer, it is fairly 
clear that there was some Jewish doctrine which made of 
Joshua a Saviour deity. 

A high authority ^ pronounces that the '' Angel of 
the Presence " is " probably Michael, who was the guar- 
dian angel of Israel." But Michael is a wholly post- 
exilic figure : was there no Hebrew prototype ? However 
that may be, the ritual connection of the name Jesus 
(Joshua) with the title of Prince of the Presence has sur- 
vived the intervention of Babylonian angelology, and 
remains to testify to a status for Joshua which can be 
explained only as a result of his original Godhood.^ 

1 Yeho-shua = " Yah [or Yeho] is welfare." = Cp. Josh, v, 2-10. 

^ Canon Charles, The Book of Jubilees, 1902, p. 9, note 29. 

* This thesis was substantially put by me in the first edition of Pagan 
Christs (1903). Dr. Conybeare, who appears incapable of accuracy in 
such matters, ascribes the Joshua theory [Hist. Christ, pp. 32, 35) and 
the special hypothesis that Joshua was mythically the son of Miriam, 
to Professor Smith, who never broached either. His pretext is a passage 
in the preface to the second edition of Christianity arid Mythology, which 
he perverts in defiance of the context. On this basis he proceeds to 
charge "imitation." Aspersion in Dr. Conybeare's polemic is usually 
thus independent of fact. 



86 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

[To this inductive argument the only answer, thus far, 
seems to be to argue, as does Dr. Conybeare, that while 
"no one nowadays accepts the Book of Joshua offhand 
as sound history," nevertheless Joshua is there '' a man 
of flesh and blood." ^ On the same reasoning, Samson 
cannot be an Evemerized deity, though his mythical 
character is clear to every mythologist. Such considera- 
tions our amateur meets by alleging that if " half-a- 
dozen or more " men " come along " mistaking an 
'* astral myth" for a man, we should "think we were 
bewitched, and take to our heels." ^ In this connection 
Dr. Conybeare represents me as declaring Jesus to be 
" an astral myth." It is not clear whether Dr. Cony- 
beare, who supposes totems to be Gods, knows what 
"astral myth" means, so I impute rather hallucination 
than fabrication. The rational reader is aware that no 
such theory has been put or suggested by me.® But as 
to his thesis, which would seem to imply that even solar 
deities could never be supposed by " half-a-dozen " to 
be real men, it is sufficient to point out that Herakles, 
the typical solar Hero-God, was believed by millions in 
antiquity to be a real man ; and that Samson, obviously 
= the Semitic Shamas or Shimshai, a variant of Herakles, 
was believed by millions of Jews to have been a real 
man. It is needless here to go into the cases of AchiUes 
and Ulysses; but the reader who would know more of 
mythology than has been discovered by Dr. Conybeare 
and his newspaper reviewers may usefuUy investigate 
these themes. 

As to Joshua, Dr. Conybeare, attempting academic 
humour, argues (p. 17) that if the hero is " interested in 
fruitfulness and foreskins " he ought to be conceived as 
a " Priapic god." The humorist, who pronounces his 
antagonists "too modest," seems to be unaware that 

1 Historical Christy p. 17. ^ i^ pp 8_9^ 

=* Neither is it put by Prof. Drews, who merely cites (above, p. 41, 
note) from Niemojewski, without endorsing it, an " astral " theory of 
Jesus and Pilate. Dr. Conybeare appears incapable of giving a true 
account of anything he antagonizes, whether in politics or in religion. 
Elsewhere Drews speaks of astral elements in the Christ story ; but so 
do those adherents of the biographical school who recognize the zodiacal 
source of the Woman-and- Child myth in Revelation. 



ROOTS OF THE MYTH 87 

Yahweh had the interests in question. Becoming 
"serious," he argues (p. 30) that "even if there ever 
existed such a cult, it had long vanished when the book 
of Joshua was compiled." For other purposes, he 
resorts (p. 16) to the test, "How do you know?" 
"Vanished," for Dr. Conybeare, means, "is not men- 
tioned in the canonical Hebrew books." With his simple 
conceptions of the religious life of antiquity, he supposes 
himself to be aware of all that went on, religiously, in 
the lives of the much-mixed population of Palestine. 
His statement (p. 31) that " the Jews " in the fifth cen- 
tury B.C. " no longer revered David and Joshua and 
Joseph as sun -gods " is as relevant as would be the 
statement that they did not worship Zeus. No one ever 
said that " the Jews " carried on all their primitive cults 
in the post-exilic period : the proposition is the expression 
of mere inability to conceive the issue. 

When, on the other hand. Dr. Conybeare proceeds to 
notice the thesis that the ancient Jesuine sacrament 
would presumably survive as a secret rite, he disposes 
of the proposition by calling it " a literary trick." That 
would be a mild term for his express assertion (p. 34) 
that I have claimed that " the canonical Book of Joshua 
originally contained " the tradition that Joshua was the 
son of Miriam — an explicit untruth. My reference to 
deletions from the book expressly pointed to the theses 
of Winckler, a scholar whom Dr. Conybeare supposes 
himself to discredit by expressions of personal contempt. 
Winckler never put the hypothesis as to Miriam.^ 

As to the survival of many private " mysteries " 
among the Jews, I may refer the reader to the section 
in Pagan Chbists on " Private Jewish Eucharists " 
(p. 168 sq.), and in particular to the dictum, there cited, 
of the late Professor Robertson Smith (who has not yet, 

^ At another point (p. 87, note) Dr. Conybeare triumphantly cites 
Winckler as saying that " the humanization of the Joshua myth was 
complete when the book of Joshua was compiled." This grants the 
whole case. "Humanization" tells of previous deity; and just as 
Achilles remained a God after being presented in the Iliad, Joshua was 
*' human " only for those whose sole lore concerning him was that of 
the Hexateuch; 



THE JESUS PROBLEM 



I believe, incurred Dr. Conybeare's tolerably indiscrimi- 
nate contempt), that *' the causes which produced a 
resuscitation of obsolete mysteries were at work at the 
same period [after the Captivity] among all the Northern 
Semites," and that " they mark the first appearance in 
Semitic history of the tendency to found religious societies 
on voluntary association and mystic initiation." To the 
'* first " I cannot subscribe, save on a special construc- 
tion of " appearance." But Robertson Smith's proposi- 
tion was founded on the documentary evidence ; and 
when he writes that '' the obscure rites described by the 
prophets have a vastly greater importance than has been 
commonly recognized," with the addendum that '' every- 
where the old national Gods had shown themselves 
powerless to resist the gods of Assyria and Babylon," we 
are listening to a great Semitic scholar, an anthropologist, 
and a thinker, not to a *' wilful child," as Dr. Conybeare 
may charitably be described, in words which, after his 
manner of polemic, he applies to me.] 

Finally, we have seen that a rite of '' Jesus the Son," 
otherwise known as the " Week of the Son," was actually 
specified by the Talmudists of the period of the fall of 
the Temple. Taken with the item of the name Jesus 
Barabbas, " Jesus the Son of the Father," and the five- 
days' duration of the ritual of the sacrificed Mock-King, 
it completes a body of Jewish evidence for the pre- 
Christian currency of the name Jesus as a cult-name of 
some kind. It is now possible to see at once the force 
of the primary thesis of Professor W. B. Smith ^ that 
the phrase ra neql xov "Irjoov, ''the things concerning the 
Jesus," in the Gospels and the Acts,^ tells of a body of 
Jesus-lore of some kind prior to the gospel story; and 
also the significance of the fact that the narrative of 
the Acts represents the new apostle as finding Jesus- 
worshippers, albeit in small numbers, wherever he went. 

1 Der vorchristUche Jesus, p. I sq. 

2 Mk. V, 37 J Lk. xxiv, 19; Acts xviii, 26; xxviii, 31. 



ROOTS OF THE MYTH 89 

To suppose that this could mean a far-reaching and 
successful propaganda by '' the Twelve " in the short 
period represented to have elapsed between the Crucifixion 
and the advent of Paul is not merely to take as history, 
or summary of history, the miracle of Pentecost, but to 
ignore the rest of the narrative. First we are told 
(viii, 1) that after the martyrdom of Stephen the Christists 
" were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of 
Judcea and Samaria, except the apostles.'' It is only to 
Samaria that Philip goes at that stage, and his doings 
are on the face of them mythical. Yet Saul on his con- 
version finds the '* disciple " Ananias at Damascus. 
Then Peter '' went throughout all parts " (ix, 32), reach- 
ing Lydda, where he finds "saints"; and then it is 
that '' the apostles and the brethren that were in Judcea 
heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of 
God" (xi, 1). It is after this that ''they that were 
scattered abroad upon the tribulation that arose about 
Stephen travelled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and 
Antioch, speaking the word to none save only to Jews. 
But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, 
who when they were come to Antioch spake unto the 
Greeks [or Grecian Jews] also, preaching the Lord Jesus " 
(xi, 19). Already there is an ecclesia at Antioch (xiii, 1) 
with nothing to account for its existence. 

At this stage it is represented that Saul and Barnabas 
customarily preach Jesuism in the Jewish synagogues; 
and that only after '' contradiction " from jealous Jews 
at Antioch of Pisidia do they " turn to the Gentiles " 
(xiii, 46), continuing, however, to visit synagogues, tiU the 
Jewish hostility becomes overwhelming. At Jerusalem, 
meanwhile, after ail the gospel invective against the 
Pharisees, there are found " certain of the sect of the 
Pharisees who believed," and who stand firm for cir- 



90 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

cumcision. Ere long we find at Ephesus the Alexandrian 
Jew ApoUos, who *' taught carefully the things concern- 
ing Jesus, knowing only the baptism of John,'' having been 
'' orally instructed in the way of the Lord " (xviii, 25), 
but had to be taught '* more carefully " by Priscilla and 
Aquila. Then he passes on to Corinth. Paul in turn 
(xix) shows at Ephesus, where he finds other early Jesuists, 
that they of the baptism of John, though by implication 
they held that '' Jesus was the Christ," had not received 
'' the Holy Ghost," which went only with the baptism of 
Jesus — the baptism which only the fourth gospel alleges 
(with contradictions), the synoptics knowing nothing of 
any baptism by Jesus or the disciples ; and only Matthew 
and Mark even alleging that after resurrection he pre- 
scribed it. In all this the hypnotized believer sees no 
untruth. To the eye of reason there is revealed a process 
of primitive cult-building. 

In whatever direction we turn, we thus find in the 
Jesuist documents themselves the traces of a " pre- 
Christian " Jesuism and Christism. At Ephesus, the 
believers " were in aU about twelve men " — the number 
required for the primitive rite. The subsequent state- 
ment (xix, 9-10) that after Paul had debated daily for 
two years at Ephesus " all they which dwelt in Asia 
heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks," is 
typical of the method of the pseudo-history. Either the 
whole narrative is baseless fiction or there were prior 
developments of the Jesus -cult. 

It may be argued, indeed, that such a work of mani- 
pulation as the Acts is no evidence for anything, and 
that its accounts indicating a prior spread of Jesuism 
are no more to be believed than its miracle stories. But 
however fictitious be its accounts of any one person, it 
is certain that there was a cult ; and all critics are now 



ROOTS OF THE MYTH 91 

agreed that the book is a redaction of previous matter — 
probably of Acts of Paul, Acts of Peter, Acts of the 
Apostles, and so on. And whereas the most advantageous 
fiction from the point of view of the growing " catholic " 
church would be an account of the apostles- as every- 
where making converts, stories of their finding them must 
be held to have been imposed on the redactor by his 
material. There also it must be held to stand for some 
reality in the history of the cult, for the same reason, 
that there was nothing to be gained by inventing such a 
detail. 

§ 2. Prototypes 

Still we are met by the objection that whatever the 
Acts may say the gospels give no indication of any 
previous Jesus-cult. But that is a position untenable 
for the biographical school save by a temporary resort 
to the theory of myth-making. As Professor W. B. Smith 
has pointed out, the gospels expressly represent that the 
disciples healed the sick in the name of Jesus in places 
where Jesus had never been. For the supernaturalists, 
that is only one more set of miracles. But the biographical 
school, though it is much inclined to credit Jesus with 
occult " healing powers," can hardly affirm such healing 
by means of a magic name, and has no resource but to 
dismiss all such matter.^ Yet why should the evangelists 
have framed such a narrative save on the knowledge that 
the name of Jesus was a thing to conjure with in Palestinian 
villages ? 

It is true that the story is fully told only of the mission 
of the Seventy. In Matthew the Twelve are '' sent " 

^ Perhaps an exception should be made of Dr. Conybeare, who 
beheves JesuS to have been a " successful exorcist " (M.M.M, p. 142). 
This writer sees no difficulty in the fact that in Mark Jesus is no exorcist 
at Nazareth, and refuses to work wonders. 



92 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

out but neither go nor return, for the narrative continues 
with them present. In Mark and Luke, the Twelve go 
and return without reporting anything, though Mark 
tells that they preached repentance, cast out many 
devils, and healed many sick by anointing them with 
oil. Evidently the mission was a heedless addition to 
the older gospel or gospels : the third attempts to give it 
some completeness. It is only the Seventy who make a 
report ; and it is only of them (Lk. x, 1) that we are told 
they were to go to places '' whither he himself was about 
to come." As the episode of the Seventy is in effect 
given up as myth even by many supernaturalists (who 
feel that, if historical, the episode could not have been 
overlooked in Matthew and Mark), the biographical school 
are so far entitled to say that for them the record does 
not posit a previously current Jesus-Name. But what 
idea then do they connect with the sending-out of the 
Twelve, if not the kind of idea that is associated with the 
sending-out of the Seventy ? 

M. Loisy feels '' authorized to believe " (1) that Jesus 
in some fashion chose twelve disciples and sent them 
out to preach the simple '' evangel " that *' the Kingdom 
of God was at hand " — that is, merely the evangel of 
John the Baptist over again; and (2) that "it seems" 
that they went two by two in the Galilean villages, and 
were '' weU received : their warning was listened to : 
sick persons were presented to them to heal, and there 
were cures.'" To say this is to say, if anything, that 
for the first Christians the Name of Jesus was held to 
have healing power before his deification, and that it 
was a known name. 

But we have stronger documentary grounds than 
these. The Apocalypse is now by advanced critics in 
general recognized to have been primarily a Judaic, not 



ROOTS OF THE MYTH 93 

a Christian document.^ The critics apparently do not 
realize that this verdict carries in it the pronouncement 
that Jesus was probably a divine name for some section 
of the Jews before the rise of the Christian cult. The 
twelve apostles enter only in an interpolation : ^ in the 
main document we have the *'four and twenty elders" 
of an older cult,^ answering to the twenty -four Counsellor 
Gods of Babylonia. Even if we assign the book to a 
*' Christian " writer of the earliest years, at the very 
beginning of the Pauline mission,^ we are committed to 
connecting the cult at that stage with the doctrine of 
the Logos,^ with the Alpha and Omega, and with the 
Mithraic or Babylonian lore of the Seven Spirits. Of 
the gospel story there is no trace beyond the mention of 
slaying : on the other hand the Child-God of the dragon- 
story is wholly non-Christian, and derives from Babylon. 

The entire book, in short, raises the question whether 
the Jesus -cult may not have come in originally (as so 
much of Judaism did), or been reinforced, from the side 
of Babylon, down even to the name of Nazareth, since 
there was a Babylonian Nasrah. As Samaria, the seat 
of the special celebration of Joshua, is historically known 
to have been colonised from Assyria and Babylon, the 
possibilities are wide. Suffice it that the Apocalypse 
indicates a strong Babylonian element in some of the 
earliest real documentary matter we have in connection 
with the Jesuist cxilt in the New Testament ; and at the 
same time makes certain the pre -Gospel currency of a 
Jesus-cult among professed Jews. 

Yet another clue obtrudes itself in the Epistle of Jude 
— or, as it ought to be named, Judas — a document 
notably Jewish in literary colour. Mr. Whittaker® was 

1 P.C. 164. 2 Rev. xxi, 14. ^ j^, 4. * Cp. ii, 9; iii, 9. 

^ iii, 14, 15; xix, 13. ^ Origins of Christianity, ed. 1914, p. 27. 



94 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

the first of the myth-theorists to lay proper stress on the 
fact that the reading '' Jesus " (= Joshua) in verse 5,^ 
alone makes the passage intelligible : — 

Now I desire to put you in remembrance, though ye 
know aU things once for all, how that Jesus [that is, 
Joshua, instead of "the Lord"] having saved a people 
out of the land of Egypt the second time ^ [Moses having 
saved them the first time], destroyed them that believed 
not. And angels which kept not their own principahty, 
but left their proper habitation, he hath kept in ever- 
lasting bonds under darkness unto the judgement of the 
great day. 

The reference is certainly to Joshua, who is here quasi- 
deified. Plainly, as Mr. Whittaker observes, " the bind- 
ing of erring angels can only be attributed to a super- 
natural being, and not to a mere national hero." 

And, as Mr. Whittaker also notes, we have yet another 
clear indication from the Jewish-Christian side that 
Joshua in Jewish theology had a heavenly status. In 
the '' Sibylline Oracles " there occurs the passage : — 

Now a certain excellent man shall come again from 
heaven, who spread forth his hands upon the very fruitful 
tree, the best of the Hebrews, who once made the sun stand 
still, speaking with beauteous words and pure lips.^ 

'* The identification of Christ with Joshua," remarks 
the orthodox translator cited, " is a mixture of Jewish 
and Christian legend (sic) which is unique. It is no 
question of symbolism here, as Joshua in Christian 
writings is treated as a type of Christ, but rather the 
confusion is such as might be made by an ignorant 

^ Found in the Alexandrian and Vatican codices, and preferred by 
Laehmann, Tregelles, and Westcott and Hort. 

2 rh Beirepou, The R.V. puts *' afterward " in the text, with " Gr. 
the second time " in the margin. Mr. Whittaker reads "afterward " 
also, after " the second time " — apparently by oversight. 

3 Deane, Pseudepigrapka, 1891, p. 312. 



ROOTS OF THE MYTH 95 

person reading, Heb. iv, 8, ' if Jesus had given them 
rest,' and concluding that Jesus Christ led the Jews into 
Canaan. The author, indeed, identifies himself with the 
Jews, as where he prays (vers. 327 ff.) : ' Spare Judea, 
Almighty Father, that we may see thy judgments ' ; and 
were it credible that the whole book was the work of 
one author, we should regard his religion as syncretic, 
and in full accord neither with law nor gospel. But the 
book ... is of composite character. One writer may 
have been a Christian ; another filches occasionally from 
Christian sources, but has no lively faith in Christ : like 
many of his countrymen at this time, he suspends his 
judgment, and instead of making a decision expends his 
energies in denunciation of the hated power of Rome, 
and in speculations concerning the future." 

It matters not whether the writer was or was not a 
confident Christian : Judaic by upbringing or tuition he 
certainly was ; and his identification of Jesus the Christ 
with Joshua is one more of the proofs that for many 
Jews Joshua had a quasi-divine status, as was fitting for 
a personage who " made the sun stand still." Taken 
collectively, the proofs cannot be overridden or explained 
away. Joshua was for the Jews of the Hellenistic period 
the actual founder of the rite of circumcision : ^ that is 
to say, mythologically, he was the God of the rite. 
But still more weighty is the evidence that his name 
lived on as that of the God-victim of a kindred rite ; 
and it is on that basis that there was founded the rite 
which is for Christianity what circumcision had been for 
Judaism. Circumcision is a rite of redemption, the 
giving of a symbolic part of the body to '' redeem " the 
whole — a surrogate for the Passover sacrifice of the 
first-born, developed into a racial theocratic rite. It is 

^ Josh, xxiv, 31, in Septuagint. 



96 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

significant that the Saviour-God of this rite becomes 
the Saviour-God of the rite offered in place of that of the 
Passover, whereby the primordial human sacrifice is 
re-typified in that of the deity who once for all dies for 
all. It is upon such roots of pre-historic religion that 
the world-religions grow. 

§ 3. The Mystery-Drama 

That there was an actual mystery-drama behind the 
gospel tragedy is revealed by the document itself, which 
is demonstrably not primarily a narrative at all, but a 
drama transcribed, with a minimum of necessary elucida- 
tion. Only the habit of reading with uncritical rever- 
ence can conceal from a student the dramatic bareness 
and brevity of the record in the synoptics — a record 
which in the fourth gospel is grafted, without any real 
development, on a protracted discourse that only arti- 
ficially suggests circumstantial reality. Chapter xiii is as 
it were inserted in the middle of that discourse ; and 
chapter xiv proceeds as from the end of chapter xii. 
The original document cannot have had the story of the 
tragedy in this form. At the close of chapter xiv the 
" Arise, let us go hence," is a slight artifice to suggest 
action where there is none. Only at chapter xviii is the 
action resumed; and it is as bare and formal as in the 
synoptics. Broadly speaking, the action is something 
superadded. A long discourse has been wrapped round 
the first section, but without altering its compressed 
character. The synoptics know nothing of the Johannine 
discourses : the Johannine document knows no more of 
a historic episode than do the synoptics : it can only 
invent monologues. 

Reading the synoptic account, we find a series of 



ROOTS OF THE MYTH 97 

separate scenes, with the barest, possible explanatory 
connection and introduction. The treason of Judas, in 
itself a myth/ is announced beforehand in three sentences, 
with no sign of reflection on the meaninglessness of the 
situation posited. A mystico-mythical episode of a 
message from the Master to one who is to prepare the 
passover meal comes next. In Matthew the message is 
to *' such a man " — imdescribed : in Mark, a man carry- 
ing a pitcher of water is to be seen and followed, and 
" wheresoever he shall enter in " the message is to be 
delivered to " the goodman of the house," and the room 
will be shown ready. To read biography in this, or to 
ascribe a " primitive " trustworthiness to the Marcan 
story, is to cast out criticism. 

But the Supper itself is presented with the same 
ceremonial effect; the whole content being the mention 
of the betrayal and the dogmatic meaning of the ritual. 
In Mark, the whole episode of the Supper occupies 
eight sentences : in Matthew, where Judas puts his 
question and gets his answer, ten. After the singing of 
a hymn, the scene changes instantly to the Mount of 
Olives. No reason is assigned for the going out into the 
night : it is taken for granted that the Divine One is 
going to his death, of his own will and prevision. Either 
we believe this, making him a God, or we recognize a 
myth. Biography it cannot be. And drama it clearly is. 

On the Mount, there is another brief dialogue, com- 
mitting Peter and the other disciples — a wholly hostile 
presentment. Again the scene changes to Gethsemane, 
where the three selected disciples with whom Jesus 
withdraws actually sleep while he utters the prayer set 
down. There was thus no one to hear it. Any bio- 
graphical theory which is concerned to respect veri- 

1 CM. 352. 
H 



98 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

similitude must here recognize something else than 
narrative, and will presumably posit invention. But 
why should invention take this peculiar form ? If the 
object was to impeach the disciples — and they certainly 
are impeached — is it not an impossibly crude device to 
tell of their sleeping throughout the prayer and its repe- 
tition, leaving open the retort : " You report the words 
of the prayer : from whom did you get them if not from 
those disciples, who must have heard them? " But if 
we suppose the scene first presented dramatically, no 
perplexity or counter-sense is involved. The impeach- 
ment is effectual ; the episode is seen ; and no one is 
concerned, in presence of a drama, to ask how certain 
words came to be known to have been spoken by any 
personage. It is the reduction to narrative form that 
betrays the dramatic source. And when we find in both 
Matthew and Mark, which clearly embody the same 
original document, this sequence ; 

And again he came, and found them sleeping . . . 
and they wist not what to answer Mm [nothing has been 
said]. And he cometh the third time, and saith unto 
them, Sleep on now, and take your rest : it is enough ; 
the hour is come : behold, the son of man is betrayed. . . . 
Arise now . . ., 

the documentary crux, which the biographical school 
makes vainly violent attempts to solve, is at once solved 
when we realize that in the transcription two speeches 
have accidentally been combined. The drama must 
have gone thus : — 

The disciples still asleep. 

Enter Jesus. 

Jes. Sleep on now and take your rest. [Exit. 

Enter Jesus. (Disciples still asleep.) 

Jes. It is enough : the hour is come, etc. 



ROOTS OF THE MYTH 



The transcriber, missing an exit and an ente^, has simply 
run two speeches together ; and the gospel copyists have 
faithfxilly followed their copy, putting ''they wist not 
what to answer him " in the wrong place. In an original 
narrative the combination could not happen. In the 
transcription of the copy of a play it could easily 
happen. We find instances in the printing of the plays 
of Shakespeare and other early dramatists. 

[One antagonist of the mystery-play theory, making no 
attempt to rebut the above solution, denies that it can 
be applied to the midnight trial before the priests, elders, 
and scribes. Of this trial M. Loisy recognizes the im- 
possibility : pronouncing that, sans doute, the asserted 
search for witnesses by night never took place. But, 
says the objector ^ : — 

(1) It may be incredible history; but it is impossible 
drama. I defy Mr. Robertson to say how it could have 
been represented on the stage, or why it should have been 
given a place in a drama at all. And he is searching for 
evidence of drama. 

(2) The incident exists only in Mr. Robertson's imagina- 
tion. The Greek phrase in Mk. xiv, 55, is the regular 
phrase for sifting evidence, and does not imply or suggest 
any hunting up of witnesses throughout Jerusalem. 

We have here three propositions : — 

1. The midnight search for witnesses is impossible in 
drama. 

2. It is impossible to give a reason why it should have 
been put in a drama. 

3. The record does not say that it took place. 

The first is at once annihilated by briefly dramatizing 
the alleged procedure : — 

Priest (or other official, to officials). Go and bring the 
witnesses to convict this fellow. [Exeunt Officials. 

Priest consults with his fellows. 

1 Art. by H. G. Wood in The Cambridge Magazine, Jan. 20, 1917 
p. 216. 



100 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

Enter Officials with a witness. Exeunt Officials. 

Witness is examined : the evidence is confused. 

Enter Officials with another witness. Exeunt. , 

Witness is examined : evidence conflicts with that 
already given. 

(And so with a series of witnesses,) 

Enter Officials with two more witnesses. 

Witnesses, examined, testify, with some contradictions 
in detaU, " This man said " — etc. 

High Priest {standing). Answerest thou nothing ? etc. 

Where is the difficulty ? It is precisely in drama, and 
in drama alone, that the impossible narrative can pass 
as possible. Action on the stage is always telescoped : 
time is always more or less ignored, because the selected 
action must go on continuously. Again and again in 
Shakespeare (or rather in pseudo- Shakespeare) we find 
irrelevant and futile scenes interposed to create the 
semblance of a time interval ; but in Othello and 
Measure for Measure, to name no other plays, the 
action is impossibly telescoped. The explanation is that 
in the psychology of the theatre time is disregarded, save 
by the most critical. The simple-minded audience of 
devotees which witnessed the Christist mystery-play 
would never ask " How did they hunt up those witnesses 
in Jerusalem at midnight ? " Solvitur ambulando, so to 
speak : they saw the trial. It is when the play is trans- 
muted to dead narrative, wherein a number of questions 
and answers are reduced to a few bald statements, that 
the impossibility obtrudes itself. 

Our critic defies us to explain how such a trial came 
to be put in a drama. It is hard to see why he is puzzled. 
The general object of the whole tragedy is to show Jesus 
as the victim, first, of the priests, elders, and scribes — 
the Jewish ecclesiastical order, whose hostility to Jesus 
is a constant datum of the gospels. At this stage the 
mystery-play has become a Gentile-Christian perform- 
ance, in which even the Jewish disciples play a poor part, 
while the official class are the mainspring of the tragedy. 
How c6uld the priests be more effectively impeached 
than by exhibiting them as producing plainly suborned 



ROOTS OF THE MYTH 101 

evidence to convict Jesus ? Lord Tennyson, in our 
time, put a bad freethinker in a bad play to discredit 
freethinking. And he had non-canonical as well as 
canonical precedents. The apocryphal "Acts of Pilate " 
appears to follow a drama in which a great many gospel 
episodes were dramatized as well as the trial. ^ 

As for the critic's assertion that a midnight search for 
witnesses is not posited in the narrative, it is again 
impossible to follow his reasoning. If the iC'ijrovv . . . 
fxaQxVQiav of Mark means "sifted evidence," the el^rirovv 
yjevdo^aqrvQiav of Matthew means " sifted false evidence." 
The theory of " sifting " is impossible. I have had the 
curiosity to examine ten translations — Latin, German, 
modem Greek, Italian, French, and English, without 
finding that one translator has ever dreamt of it. All 
agree with the current English rendering, which means 
sought [false] testimony, because no other rendering is 
possible. The record goes on, in Mark : — 

. . . and found it \i. e. the required evidence] not. Far 
many hare false mtness against Mm and their witness 
agreed not together. And there stood up certain, and 
bare false witness against him. . . . And not even so 
did their witness agree together. And the high priest 
stood up. . . . 

According to the new theory, the prosecution " sifted 
evidence " which " stood up," as did the high priest. 

Defending his thesis, the exegete argues ^ that the 
"evidence" was not written but oral; that is to say, 
the authorities had collected witnesses during the day 
and had then kept them till midnight or later without 
ascertaining what evidence they were able to give. The 
narratives neither say nor hint anything of the kind; 
whereas if such had been supposed to be the fact it would 
have been the natural thing to say so. 

But the thing alleged is unnatural. On the one hand 
we are asked to believe that the authorities had before 
sunset collected a number of witnesses, when they could 
not have any certainty of making the arrest ; on the other 

1 P.C. 202. 2 Cambridge Magazine, Feb. 3, 1917, p. 289. 



102 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

hand we are to believe that with all this extraordinary 
fore-planning they had not taken the normal precaution 
of ascertaining what the witnesses could say. In the 
transcribed drama as it stands, the authorities are repre- 
sented as knaves ; in the interpretation before us, framed 
to save the credit of the narrative, they are represented 
as childishly foolish. The narrative as we have it defies 
its vindicators. It tells that witnesses were sent for ; 
and only in a drama, in which time-conditions are ignored, 
could such a fiction have been resorted to.] 

The story is equally dramatic to the close. Everything 
is scenic, detached, episodic : it is left to Luke (who 
elaborates the Supper scene ; gives a positive command 
of Jesus for the future celebration where the previous 
documents merely show the rite as it was practised; 
puts the denial of Peter before the trial ; and drops the 
whole procedure of the witnesses) to interpose the episode 
of the daughters of Jerusalem between the Roman trial 
and the crucifixion ; and even that is parenthetic and 
dramatic, as are the burial and the seeking ; whereafter, 
in Mark, the gospel abruptly ends. The rest is supple- 
mentary documentation. How much of that may have 
been dramatized, it is impossible to say. That there had 
been evolution in the mystery-play is involved in our 
conception of it. It began with the simple Sacrament, 
at a remote period, the Sacrament itself being evolved 
from a primitive and savage to a symbolic form, the God 
being probably first represented, as in kindred rites, ^ by 
his sacrificial priest; and later by the victim. ^ It is 
after the primitive and localized cult seeks the status of 
a world-religion that the ritual developes into a quasi- 
history; and we can see conflicting influences in that. 
One writer causes Jesus to be buffeted and mocked at 

^ O.B. V, 45 8q., 223; P.G. 364, 373-4. 

2 P.G, U2 sq,, 131 sq.y 140, 142, 144, 362, 362-4, 368. 



ROOTS OF THE MYTH 103 

the Jewish trial, as if to counterbalance the derision in 
the Roman trial ; even as Luke interposes a third trial 
before Herod, to make sure that the guilt should ulti- 
mately lie with the Jewish government. In the action as 
in the doctrine, the Gentile influence finally predominates. 
The important point to note in the documentary 
evolution is that the mystery-play remained a secret 
representation for some time after written gospels were 
current. To begin with, all the mystery-plays of the 
age were on the same footing of secrecy. What takes 
place finally in the Jesuist cult is a simple adding-on of 
the mystery-play to the gospels. It was not for nothing 
that the school of B. Weiss, seeking to expiscate a 
" Primitive Gospel " from the synoptics, made it end 
before the Tragedy. This was what they were bound to 
do by their documentary tests ; and the common objec- 
tion that such an ending is very improbable — a difficulty 
avowed by Weiss and weakly sought to be solved by some 
of the school — is seen in the light of the myth-theory to 
be a difficulty only for those who assume not merely the 
historicity of a Jesus but the historicity of the whole 
tragedy story down to the resurrection. Once it is 
realized that that story is a dramatic development of 
an originally simple myth of sacrificial death, the docu- 
mentary difficulty disappears. 

[It should not be necessary to point out the absolute 
falsity of the assertion of Dr. Conybeare (Histor. Christ, 
p. 49) that in my theory '' The Christian Gospels . . . 
are a transcript of the annually performed ritual drama, 
just as Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare are transcripts of 
Shakespeare's plays." In Pagan Christs (p. 201) it is 
expressly argued that " the Mystery Play is an addition 
to a previously existing document. . . . The transcriber 
has been able to add to the previous gospel the matter 
of the mystery-play; and there he loyally stops." And 



104 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

it is repeatedly pointed out that the transcription has 
been made with the minimum of necessary narrative 
connection. Thus the parallel with Lamb's Tales is false 
even as regards the matter posited as constituting the 
play; while the assertion that the whole of the gospel 
is represented as a transcription of a play is pure fabrica- 
tion. And this mere falsification of the theory passes 
with traditionalist critics as a confutation.] 

Some account, indeed, the Jesuists must have given 
of the death of their God or Son-God when they reached 
the stage of systematic propaganda ; and this was in all 
likelihood a bare statement such as we have in the 
Epistles, that he was put to a humiliating death and 
rose again. It is very likely that accounts of the manner 
of the death varied in the first written accounts, as they 
certainly would in the traditions or rituals current at 
various points ; and we may grant to the documentary 
critics that various versions may have attached to early 
forms or sources of Mark and Matthew. A general 
statement that Jesus was the '* Son of the Father," and 
that he had been put to death with ignominy, would 
elicit, as has been above argued, the objection that 
" Jesus Barabbas " was certainly no divine personage. 
The Barabbas story, then, explaining away that objec- 
tion, is a comparatively late development, of which, 
accordingly, we find not a single trace in the Acts or the 
Epistles. But similarly the Supper is not described in 
the Acts or the Epistles apart from the plainly inter- 
polated account in First Corinthians. And at the outset 
the Supper would be emphatically secret matter, not to 
be written down. 

Whatever conclusion, then, was given to the earlier 
gospel or gospels, it did not include that. As little 
would it give the Agony, or the trials before the San- 
hedrim and before Pilate, throwing the guilt of the 



ROOTS OF THE MYTH 105 

tragedy on the Jews, or the episodes disparaging the 
apostles. Judas is in all likelihood primarily a figure of 
a Gentile form of the play, being just Judaios, a Jew/ 
created by Gentile or Samaritan animus. What infer- 
ribly happened was a dramatic development, by Gentile 
hands, of a primarily simple mystery drama, consisting 
of the Supper, the death, and the resurrection, into the 
play as it now stands transcribed in the synoptics, with 
the Betrayal, the Agony, the Denial, the Trials, and the 
dramatic touches in the crucifixion scene. 

The school of Weiss, then, on our theory, reached by 
comparatively consistent methods of documentary criti- 
cism a relatively sound conclusion. The earlier forms 
of the gospel certainly had not the present conclusion; 
and whatever simple conclusions they had were bound 
to be superseded when the complete mystery play was 
transcribed — the very transcription being a reason for 
their disappearance. At some point, probably by reason 
of the Christian reaction against aU pagan procedure, 
the play, which in its present form must ' always have 
been special to a town or towns, was dropped, and 
though the tendency was to keep the Eucharist an 
advanced rite for initiates, and withhold it from cate- 
chumens,^ the reduction of the Tragedy to narrative 
form became a necessity for purposes of propaganda. 
Without it, the gospels were inadequate to their pur- 
poses ; and it supplied the needed confutation of the 
charge that Jesus was simply a victim in the Barabbas rite. 

^ CM. 354. I find that Volkmar (there cited) had in one of his 
later works put the theory that the traitor, whom he held to be an 
invention of the later Paulinists, would be named Juda as typifying 
Judaism. The myth- theory is not necessarily comn:iitted to the 
whole of this thesis, but the objections of Brandt {Die evang. Gesch. 
pp. 15—18) seem to me invalid. He always reasons on the pre- 
supposition of a central historicity, and argues as if Mark could not 
have been interpolated at the points where Judas is named. 

2 CM. 208, notes. 



106 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

This said, we have still to face the main problem of 
the evolution of the Jesus-cult into a world-religion in 
which the God Sacrificed to the God becomes also the 
Messiah of the Jews and the Teacher of those who believe 
in him. And the tracing of that evolution must obviously 
be difficult. The process of extracting true out of false 
history is always so ; and where the concocted history 
and its contingent literature are the main documents, 
we can in the nature of things reach only general con- 
ceptions. But general conceptions are attainable; and 
we must frame them as scientifically as we can. 



Chapter IV 
THE EVOLUTION OF THE CULT 

§ L The Primary Impulsion 

Professor W. B. Smith, whose brilliant, independent, 
and powerful advocacy of the myth-theory has brought 
conviction to readers not otherwise attracted by it, has 
stressed two propositions in regard to the evolution of 
the Jesus-cult. One is that the movement was " multi- 
focal," starting from a number of points ; ^ the other that 
the essential and inspiring motive was the monotheistic 
conception, as against all forms of polytheism ; Jesus 
being conceived as " the One God." ^ That the first 
proposition is sound and highly important, I am con- 
vinced. But after weighing the second with a full sense 
of the acumen that guides all Professor Smith's con- 
structive speculation, I remain of the opinion that it 
needs considerable modification.^ In clearing up these 
two issues, we shall go a long way towards establishing a 
clear theory of the whole historical process. 

In the first place, a " multifocal " movement, a growth 
from many points, is involved in all our knowledge of the 
highly important matters of the history of the early 
Christian sects, and the non-canonical Christian documents. 
Perhaps the proposition is even more widely true than 

^ Der vorchristliche Jesus, 1906, Vorwort by Schmiedel, p. vii, and 
pp. 27-28. Ecce Deus, 1912, pp. 18, 332. 

2 Ecce Deus, pp. 16, 18, 50 sq., 70, 135 ; Der vorchr. Jesus, p. 40. But 
see Ecce Deus, pp. 66 and 196, where the thesis is modified. 

3 In the Literary Guide of June, 1913, Professor Smith defends his 
thesis against another critic. The reader should consult that article. 

107 



108 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

Professor Smith indicates. To begin with, we find at 
an early stage the sects of (1) Ebionites and (2) Nazarenes 
or Nazareans, in addition to (3 and 4) the Judaizing and 
Gentilizing movements associated with '' the Twelve " 
and Paul respectively ; and yet further (5) the movement 
associated with the name of ApoUos. Further we have 
to note (6) the Jesuism of the Apocalypse, partly extra- 
Judaic in its derivation ; and (7) that of the ninth section 
of the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, which 
emerges as a quasi-Ebionitic addition to a purely Judaic 
document — not yet interpolated by the seventh section. 
Yet further, we have (8) the factors accruing to the 
religious epithet " Chrestos '' ^ (= good, gracious), which 
specially attached to the underworld Gods of the Samo- 
thracian mysteries ; also to Hermes, Osiris, and Isis ; 
and (9 and 10) the Christist cult-movements connected 
with the non-Jesuine Pastor of Hermas and the sect of 
the Eleesaites.^ And this is not an exhaustive list. 

(11) That, there was a general Jewish ferment of 
Messianism on foot in the first century is part of the case 
of the biographical school. That there actually arose 
in the first and second centuries various Jewish " Christs " 
is also a historical datum. But the biographical school 
are not wont in this connection to avow the inference 
that alone can properly be drawn from the phrase of 
Suetonius as to a movement of Jewish revolt at Rome 
occurring in the reign of Claudius impulsore Chresto, 
" (one) Chrestus instigating." ^ This is not an allusion 
to the Greek epithet Chrestos before referred to : it is 
either a specification of an individual otherwise unknown 
or the reduction to vague historic status of the source 

1 S.H.C. SSsq. 2 j^^ 35-36. 

3 On this problem cp. Prof. Smith, Ecce Deua, 251 sq.; and Prof. 
Drews, Witnesses to the Historicity of Jesus, Eng. tr. p. 19. 



THE EVOLUTION OF THE CULT 109 

of a general ferment of Jewish insurrection in Rome, 
founding on the expectation of the Christos, the Messiah. 
In the reign of Claudius, such a movement could not 
have been made by '' Christians " on any view of the 
history. As the words were pronounced alike they were 
interchangeably written, Chrestos (preserved in the 
French chretien) being used even among the Fathers. 
Giving to the phrase of Suetonius the only plausible import 
we can assign to it, we get the datum that among the 
Jews outside Palestine there was a generalized movement 
of quasi-revolutionary Christism which cannot weU have 
been without its special literature. 

(12) In this connection may be noted the appearance 
of a quasi-impersonal Messianism and Christism on the 
border-land of Jewish and early Christian literature. 
Of this, a main source is the Book of Enoch, of which 
the Messianic sections are now by general consent assigned 
to the first and second centuries b.c. There the Messiah 
is caUed the Just or Righteous One ; ^ the Chosen One ; ^ 
Son of Man ; ^ the Anointed ; ^ and once *' Son of the 
Woman." ^ Here already we have the imagined Divine 
One more or less concretely represented. He is pre- 
mundane, and so supernatural, yet not equal with God, 
being simply God's deputy.® When then we find in the 
so-called Odes of Solomon, recently recovered from an 
Ethiopic version, a Messianic psalmody in which, appar- 
ently in the first Christian century, '' the name of the gospel 
is not found, nor the name of Jesus ; " and '' not a single 
saying of Jesus is directly quoted," ' it is critically 
inadmissible to pronounce the Odes Christian, especially 
when a number are admitted to have no Christian char- 

^ Enoch, xxxviii, 2 ; liii, 6. ^ Id. xl, 6, and often. 

3 Id. xlvi, 2, 3, etc. ^ Id. xlviii, 10; hi, 4. 

^ Id. Ixii, 5. 6 Schodde's in trod. p. 61. 

^ Dr. Rendel Harris, Odes of Solommi, 1909, introd. p. 72. 



no THE JESUS PROBLEM 

acteristics.^ When, too, the writer admittedly appears 
to be speaking ex ore Christi, a new doubt is cast on all 
logia so-called. Such literature, whether or not it be 
pronounced Gnostic, points to the Gnostic Christism in 
which the personal Jesus disappears ^ in a series of 
abstract speculations that exclude all semblance of 
human personality. All the evidence points for its 
origination to abstract or general conceptions, not to 
any actual life or teaching. It spins its doctrinal web 
from within. 

(13) And it is not merely on the Jewish side that we 
have evidence of elements in the early Jesuist movement 
which derive from sources alien to the gospel record. 
M. Loisy 3 admits that the hymn of the Naassenes, given 
by Hippolytus,^ in which Jesus appeals to the Father to 
let him descend to earth and reveal the mysteries to men, 
" has an extraordinary resemblance to the dialogue 
between the God Ea and his son Marduk in certain 
Babylonian incantations." ^ He disposes of the problem 
by claiming that before it can weigh with us ''it must 
be proved that the hymn of the Ophites is anterior to all 
connection of their sect with Christianity." The im- 
plication is that Gnostic syncretism could add Babylonian 
traits to the Jewish Jesus. But when we find signal 
marks of a Babylonian connection for the name Jesus 
in the Apocalypse we cannot thus discount, without 
further evidence, the Babylonian connection set up by 
the Naassene hymn. Nor can the defenders of a record 
which they themselves admit to contain a mass of im- 

^ Harris, as cited, pp. 118, 126, 128, etc. 

2 Dr. Harris pronoionces that an account in the Odes of the Virgin 
Birth (xix) must be later than the first century (p. 116). But this 
begs the question as to the source of that myth. 

^ Apropos d^hist. des religions, p. 272. 

* Refutation of all Heresies, v, 5 (11). 

^ Cp. Drews, The Christ Myth, p. 54; and 2nd ed. of original, 
p. 24. 



THE EVOLUTION OF THE CULT 111 

historical matter claim to have a ground upon which they 
can dismiss as a copyist's blunder the formula in which 
in an old magic papyrus Jesus, as Healer, is adjured as 
" The God of the Hebrews." ^ The very gospel records 
present the name of Jesus as one of magical power in 
places where he has not appeared. A strict criticism is 
bound to admit that the whole question of the pre-Christian 
vogue of the name Jesus presents an unsolved problem. 

There are further two quasi-historical Jesuses, one 
(14) given in the Old Testament, the other (15) in the 
Talmud, concerning which we can neither affirm nor deny 
that they were connected with a Jesuine movement 
before the Christian era. One is the Jesus of Zechaiiah 
(iii, 1-8; vi, 11-15); the other is the Jesus Ben Pandira, 
otherwise Jesus Ben Satda or Stada, of the Talmud. 
The former, Jesus the High Priest, plays a quasi-Messianic 
part, being described as *' The Branch" and doubly 
crowned as priest and king. The word for '' branch " in 
Zechariah is tsemach, but this was by the pre-Christian 
Jews identified with the netzer of Isaiah xi, I ; which 
for some the early Jesuists would seem to have constituted 
the explanation of Jesus' cognomen of " Nazarite " or 
" Nazarsean." ^ The historic significance of the allusions 
in Zechariah appears to have been wholly lost ; and that 
very circumstance suggests some pre-Christian con- 
nection between the name Jesus and a Messianic move- 
ment, which the Jewish teachers would be disposed to 
let slip from history, and the Christists who might know 
of it would not wish to recall. But the matter remains 
an enigma. 

Equally unsolved, thus far, is the problem of the 
Talmudic Jesus. Ostensibly, there are two ; and yet both 
seem to have been connected, in the Jewish mind, with 

1 Drews, p. 59; Loisy, p. 273. ^ (i j^ 316 ag. 



112 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

the Jesus of the gospels. One, Jesus son of Pandira, ia 
recorded to have been stoned to death and then hanged 
on a tree, for blasphemy or other religious crime, on the 
eve of a Passover in the reign of Alexander Jannseus 
(B.C. 106-79).^ But in the Babylonian Gemara he is 
identified with a Jesus Ben Sotada or Stada or Sadta 
or Sidta, who by one rather doubtful clue is put in the 
period of Rabbi Akiba in the second century c.E. He 
too is said to have been stoned and hanged on the eve of 
a Passover, but at Lydda, whereas Ben Pandira is said 
to have been executed at Jerusalem. Some scholars 
take the unlikely view that two different Jesuses were 
thus stoned and hanged on the eve of a Passover : others 
infer one, whose date has been confused.^ As Ben 
Pandira entered into the Jewish anti-Christian tradition, 
and is posited by the Jew of Celsus in the second century, 
the presumption is in favour of his date. His mother is 
in one place named Mariam Magdala = " Mary the 
nurse " or " hair-dresser " — a quasi-mythical detail. 
But even supposing him to have been a real personage, 
whose name may have been connected with a Messianic 
movement (he is said to have had five disciples), it is 
impossible to say what share his name may have had 
in the Jesuine tradition. Our only practicable clues, 
then, are those of the sects and movements enumerated. 
It soon becomes clear from a survey of these sects and 
movements (1) that a cult of a non-diYmQ Jesus, re- 
presented by the Hebraic Ebionites, subsisted for a time 
alongside of one which, also among Jews, made Jesus a 
supernatural being. Only on the basis of an original rite 
can such divergences be explained. The Ebionites come 
before us, in the account of Epiphanius, as using a form 
of the Gospel of Matthew which lacked the first two 
1 CM. 363. 2 i^^ 364 



THE EVOLUTION OF THE CULT 113 

chapters (an addition of the second or third century), 
denying the divinity of Jesus, and rejecting the apostle- 
ship of Paul.^ It is implied that they accepted the story 
of the Last Supper and the Crucifixion. Here then were 
Jewish believers in a Hero-Jesus, the Servant of God 
(as in the Teaching), not a Son of God in any supernatural 
sense. Ebionism had rigidly restricted the cult to a 
subordinate form. 

On the other hand, we have in the Nazarean sect or 
fraternity a movement which added both directly and 
indirectly to the Jesuist evolution. In the so-called 
Primitive Gospel, as expiscated by the school of B. Weiss 
from the synoptics, there is no mention of Nazareth, 
and neither the epithet " Nazarene " nor " Nazarite " 
for Jesus. AH three names are wholly absent from the 
Epistles, as from the Apocalypse : Jesus never has a 
cognomen after we pass the Acts. The inference is 
irresistible that first the epithet "Nazarean," and later 
the story about Nazareth, were additions to a primary 
cult in which Jesus had no birth-location, any more than 
he had human parents. 

I have suggested ^ that the term may have come in 
from the Hebrew '' Netzer " = "the branch," which 
would have a Messianic meaning for Jews. Professor 
Smith, who makes a searching study of Hebrew word- 
elements, has developed a highly important thesis to the 
effect that the word Nazaraios, " Nazarean," which gives 
the residual name for the Jesuist sect in the Acts and the 
predominant name for Jesus in the gospels (apart from 
Mark, which gives Nazarenos),^ is not only pre-Christian 
but old Semitic ; that the fundamental meaning of the 
name (Nosri) is "guard" or "watcher" (== Saviour?), 
and that the appellation is thus cognate with " Jesus," 

1 Hcerea. xxx. 2 s.H.C. 6; CM. 316. 3 c.M, 314. 

I 



114 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

which signi^es Saviour.^ On the negative side, as against 
the conventional derivations from Nazareth, the case is 
very strong. More than fifty years ago, the freethinker 
Owen Meredith insisted on the lack of evidence that a 
Galilean village named Nazareth existed before the 
Christian era. To-day/ professional scholarship has 
acquiesced, to such an extent that Dr. Cheyne ^ and 
Wellhausen have agreed in deriving the name from the 
regional name Gennesareth, thus making Nazareth = 
Galilee; while Professor Burkitt, finding ''the ordinary 
view of Nazareth wholly unproved and unsatisfactory," 
offers '' a desperate conjecture " to the effect that *' the 
city of Joseph and Mary, the naxQig of Jesus, was 
Chorazin." ^ In the face of this general surrender, we 
are doubly entitled to deny that either^ the appellation 
for Jesus or the sect-name had anything to do with the 
place-name Nazareth.* 

That there was a Jewish sect of " Nazarseans " before 
the Christian era. Professor Smith has clearly shown, 
may be taken as put beyond doubt by the testimony of 
Epiphanius, which he exhaustively analyzes.^ Primitively 
orthodox, like the Samaritans, and recognizing ostensibly 
no Bible personages later than Joshua, they appear to 
have merged in some way with the " Christians," who 
adopted their name, perhaps turning '' Nazarsean " into 
*' Nazorean." My original theory was that the '' Naza- 
rseans " were just the '' Nazarites " of the Old Testament 
— men ''separated" and ''under a vow";® and that 
the two movements somehow coalesced, the place-name 
" Nazareth " being finally adopted to conceal the facts. 

1 Der vorchristliche Jesus, pp. 42-70 ; Ecce Deus, pt. vi. 

2 CM. 314. 

^ Paper on " The Syriac Forms of New Testament Names," in Proc. 
of the British Academy^ vol. v, 1912, pp. 17-18. 

* CM, 312. The thesis was put by me twenty-eight years ago. 
^ Der vorchr. Jesus, p. 54 sq. ^ CM. 316. 



THE EVOLUTION OF THE CULT 115 

But Professor Smith is convinced, from the evidence of 
Epiphanius, that between *' Nazarites " and " Nazarseans " 
there was no connection ; ^ and for this there is the strong 
support of the fact that the Jews cursed the Jesuist 
" Nazorseans " while apparently continuing to recognize 
the Nazirs or Nazarites. That Professor Smith's deriva- 
tion of the name may be the correct one, I am well 
prepared to believe. 

But it is difficult to connect such a derivation of an 
important section of the early Jesuist movement with 
the thesis that Jesuism at its historic outset was essentially 
a monotheistic crusade. On this side we seem to face 
an old sect for whom, as for the adherents of the early 
sacrament, Jesus was a secondary or subordinate divine 
personage. Standing at an early Hebraic standpoint, 
the Nazarseans would have no part in the monotheistic 
universalism of the later prophets. The early Hebrews 
had believed in a Hebrew God, recognizing that other 
peoples also had theirs. How or when had the Nazarseans 
transcended that standpoint ? 

In the absence of any elucidation, the very ably argued 
thesis of Professor Smith as to the name " Nazarsean " 
seems broadly out of keeping with the thesis that a 
monotheistic fervour was a main and primary element in 
the development of the Christian cult; and that Jesus 
was conceived by his Jewish devotees in general as " the 
One God." This would have meant the simple de- 
throning of Yahweh, a kind of procedure seen only in 
such myths as that of Zeus and Saturn, where one racial 
cult superseded another. But the main form of Chris- 
tianity was always Yahwistic, even when Paul in the Acts 
is made to proclaim to the Athenians an '' unknown 
God " — an idea really derived jrom Athens. Only for 
1 Der vorchr. Jesus, pp. 56, 65. 



116 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

a few, and these non-Jews, can " the Jesus " originally 
have been the One God ; unless in so far as the use of the 
name " the Lord " may for some imlettered Jews have 
identified Jesus with Yahweh, who was so styled. The 
Ebionites denied his divinity aU along. The later 
Nazareans were Messianists who did not any more than 
the Jews seem to conceive that the Messiah was Yahweh. 

The whole doctrine of " the Son " was in conflict with 
any purely monotheistic idea. Nowhere in the synoptics 
or the Epistles is the Christ doctrine so stated as really 
to serve monotheism : the " I and the Father are one " 
of the fourth gospel is late ; and the opening verses of 
that gospel show tampering, telling of a vacillation as to 
whether the Logos was God or " with God " — or rather 
*' next to God," in the strict meaning of nQOQ, Here 
we have a reflex of Alexandrian philosophy,^ not the 
evangel of the popular cult. Formally monotheistic 
the cult always was, even when it had become actually 
Trinitarian ; and all along, doubtless, the particularist 
monotheism of the Jews was at work against aU other 
God-names in particular and polytheism in general; 
but that cannot well have been the moving force in a 
cult which was professedly beginning by establishing an 
ostensibly new deity, and was ere long to make a trinity. 

So far as anything can be clearly gathered from the 
scattered polemic in the Talmud against "the Minim," 
the standing title for Jewish heretics, including Christians 
as such,^ they at least appear not as maintaining the 
oneness of God but rather as affirming a second Deity, ^ 

^ Cp. Philo Judseus, De Profugis : — " The Divine Word . . . exist- 
ing as the image of God, is the eldest of all things that can be known, 
placed nearest, and without anything intervening, to him who alone is 
the self-existent." 

^ Friedlander's thesis that the Minim were early Gnostics seems to 
be completely upset by Mr. Herford, Chriatianity in Talmud, p. 368 sq. 

a Id. pp. 255-266. 



THE EVOLUTION OF THE CULT 117 

and this as early as the beginning of thes econd century. 
That the Jewish Rabbis took this view of their doctrine 
is explained in terms of the actual theology of the Epistle 
to the Hebrews. If there was any new doctrine of 
monotheism bound up with Jesuism, it must have been 
outside of the Jewish sphere, where the unity of God was 
the very ground on which Jesuism was resisted. As such, 
the Jewish Christians did not even repudiate the Jewish 
law, being expressly aspersed by the Rabbis as secret 
traitors who professed to be Jews but held alien heresies.^ 
I have said that " the Jesus " can have been '' the 
one God " only for non-Jews. Conceivably he may have 
been so for some Samaritans. There is reason to believe 
that in the age of the Herods only a minority of the 
Samaritan people held by Judaism ; ^ and there is Christian 
testimony that in the second century a multitude of them 
worshipped as the One God Sem or Semo, the Semitic 
Sun-God whose name is embodied in that of Samson. 
Justin Martyr, himself a Samaritan, expressly alleges 
that " almost aU the Samaritans, and a few even of other 
nations " worship and acknowledge as '' the first God " 
Simon, whom he describes as a native of Gitta or Gitton, 
emerging in the reign of Claudius Csesar.^ Justin's gross 
blunder in identifying a Samaritan of the first century 
with the Sabine deity Semo Sancus, whose statue he had 
seen in Rome,^ is proof that he could believe in the 
deification of an alien as Supreme God, in his lifetime, in 
a nation with ancient cults. The thing being impossible, 
we are left to the datum that Sem or Semo or Sem-on = 

^ The fact that the Talmudic allusions to the Minim include no 
discussion of the Christist doctrine of the Messiah (Herford, pp. 277, 
279) goes to show that a Messianic doctrine had been no part of the 
early cult, and that among the Jesuists who kept up their connection 
with Judaism it gathered, or kept, no hold. 

^ Cp. Volkmar, Die Religion JesUy 1857, p. 287. 

3 Justin, 1 Apol. 26. . * Jd. ih. 



118 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

Great Sem was widely worshipped in Samaria, as elsewhere 
in the near East.^ 

Returning to the subject of '' the magician Simon " 
in his Dialogue with Trypho,^ Justin there repeats 
that the Samaritans call him '* God above all power, and 
authority, and might." Remembering that the Jewish 
Shema, '' the Name," is the ordinary appellative for 
Yahweh, we note possibilities of syncretism as to which 
we can only speculate. The fact that the Jews actually 
called their God in general by a word meaning " Name " 
and also equating with the commonest Semitic name for 
the Sun-God, while in their sacred books they pro- 
fessedly transmuted the sacred name (altering the con- 
sonants) to Adonai = Lord (" plural of majesty "), the 
name of the Syrian God Adonis, is a circumstance that has 
never been much considered by hierologists. It suggests 
that the Samaritan Sem also may have been '' known " 
by other names ; and the certain fact of the special 
commemoration of Joshua among the Samaritan Judaists 
gives another ground for speculation. The words of 
Jesus to the Samaritan woman in the fourth gospel, 
'' Ye worship ye know not what," seem to signify that 
from the Alexandrian- Jewish standpoint Samaritans 
worshipped a name only. 

What does emerge clearly is that Samaria played a 
considerable part in the beginnings of Christism. In a 
curious passage of the fourth gospel (viii, 48) the Jews 
say to Jesus, *' Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, 
and hast a daimon? " : and he answers with a denial 
that he has a daimon, but makes no answer on the other 
charge. The fact that Matthew makes the Founder 
expressly forbid his disciples to enter any city of the 

1 See the whole subject discussed in Appendix B. 

2 C. 120, end. 



THE EVOLUTION OF THE CULT 119 

Samaritans, while an interpolator of Luke ^ introduces 
the story of the good Samaritan to counteract the doctrine, 
teUs that there was a sunderance between Samaritan and 
Judaizing Christists just as there was between the 
Judaizers and the Gentilizers in general. From Samaria, 
then, came part of the impulse to the whole Gentilizing 
movement ; and the Samaritan Justin shows the anti- 
Judaic animus clearly enough. 

That Samaritan Jesuism, then, may early have outgone 
the Pauline in making Jesus " the One God," in rivalry 
to the Jewish Yahweh, is a recognizable possibility. 
But still we do not reach the conception of a zealously 
monotheistic cult, relying specially on a polemic of 
monotheism. Justin fights for monotheism as against 
paganism, but on the ordinary Judaic -Christian basis. 
This is a later polemic stage. Nor does the thesis of a new 
monotheism seem at all essential to the rest of Professor 
Smith's conception of the emergence of Jesuism. He 
agrees that it exfoliated from a scattered cult of secret 
mysteries : the notion, then, that it was at the time of 
its open emergence primarily a gospel of One God, and 
that God Jesus, is ostensibly in excess of the first hypo- 
thesis. It is also somewhat incongruous Avith the accept- 
ance of the historic fact that it spread as a popular religion, 
in a world which desired Saviour Gods.^ Saviour Gods 
abounded in polytheism ; the very conception is primarily 
polytheistic ; and all we know of the cast and calibre of 
the early converts in general is incompatible with the 

1 See H. J. 182. 

2 Ecce Deus, p. 68. In his article in the Literary Guide, June, 1913, 
Professor Smith argues that only as a protest against idolatry and a 
crusade for monotheism could Proto-Christianity have succeeded with 
the Gentiles. But that was simply the line of Judaism, which had 
no Son-God to cloud its monotheism. Surely Jesuism appealed to 
the Gentiles primarily as did other Saviour-c^dts, ultimately distancing 
these by reason of organization. 



120 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

notion of them as zealous for an abstract and philoso- 
phical conception of deity. Whether we take the epistles 
to the Corinthians as genuine or as pseudepigraphic, they 
are clearly addressed to a simple-minded community, not 
given to monotheistic idealism, and indeed incapable of it. 

In positing, further, a rapid " triumph " of Christism 
in virtue of its monotheism, Professor Smith seems to me 
to outgo somewhat the historical facts. There is really 
no evidence for any rapid triumph. Renan, after accept- 
ing as history the pentecostal dithyramb of the Acts, 
came to see that no such quasi-miraculous spread of 
the faith ever took place ; and that the Pauline epistles 
all presuppose not great churches but '' little Bethels," 
or rather private conventicles, scattered through the. 
Eastern Empire.^ He justifiably doubted whether Paul's 
converts, all told, amounted to over a thousand persons. 
At a much later period, sixty years after Constantine's 
adoption of the faith, the then ancient church of Antioch, 
the city where first the Jesuists *' were called Christians," 
numbered only about a fiith part of the population.^ 
" At the end of the second century, probably not a 
hiuidredth part even of the central provinces of the 
Roman Empire was Christianized, while the outlying 
provinces were practically unaffected." 

Rather we seem bound to infer that Christianity made 
headway by assimilating pagan ideas and usages on a 
basis of Judaic organization. It is ultimately organiza- 
tion that conserves cults ; and the vital factor in the 
Christian case is the adaptation of the model set by the 
Jewish synagogues and their central supervision. Of 
course even organization cannot avert brute conquest; 
and the organized pagan cults in the towns of the Empire 
went down ultimately before Christian violence as the 

1 Cp. Les ApStres, p. 107; Saint Paul, pp. 562-3. 2 Cp. S.H.C. 82. 



THE EVOLUTION OF THE CULT 121 

Christian went down before violence in Persia in the age 
of the Sassanides. But Christian organization, improving 
upon Jewish, with no adequate rivalry on the pagan 
side, developed the situation in which Constantino saw 
fit to imperialize the cultus, as the one best fitted to 
become that of the State. 

How then did the organization begin and grow ? 
The data point insistently to a special group in Jerusalem ; 
and behind the myth of the gospels we have historical 
and documentary ground for a hypothesis which can 
account for that as for the other myth-elements. 

§ 2. The Silence of Josephus 

When we are considering the possibilities of underljdng 
historical elements in the gospel story, it may be well to 
note on the one hand the entirely negative aspect of the 
works of Josephus to that story, and on the other hand 
the emergence in his writings of personages bearing the 
name Jesus. If the defenders of the historicity of the 
gospel Jesus would really stand by Josephus as a his- 
torian of Jewry in the first Christian century, they would 
have to admit that he is the most destructive of all the 
witnesses against them. It is not merely that the famous 
interpolated passage ^ is flagrantly spurious in every 
aspect — ^in its impossible context ; its impossible language 
of semi-worship ; its *' He was (the) Christ " ; its assertion 
of the resurrection; and its allusion to ''ten thousand 
other wonderful things " of which the historian gives 
no other hint — but that the flagrant interpolation brings 
into deadly relief the absence of all mention of the crucified 
Jesus and his sect where mention must have been made 
by the historian if they had existed. If, to say nothing 

^ 19 Antiq.Ziii, 3. 



122 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

of '' ten thousand wonderful things," there was any 
movement of a Jesus of Nazareth with twelve disciples 
in the period of Pilate, how came the historian to ignore it 
utterly ? If, to say nothing of the resurrection story, 
Jesus had been crucified by tilate, how came it that there 
is no hint of such an episode in connection with Josephus' 
accoiuit of the Samaritan tumult in the next chapter ? 
And if a belief in Jesus as a slain and returning Messiah 
had been long on foot before the fall of the Temple, how 
comes it that Josephus says nothing of it in connection 
with his full accoimt of the expectation of a coming 
Messiah at that point ? 

By every test of loyal historiography, we are not 
merely forced to reject the spurious passage as the most 
obvious interpolation in all literature : we are botuid to 
confess that the '' Silence of Josephus," as is insisted by 
Professor Smith, ^ is an insurmountable negation of the 
gospel story. For that silence, no tenable reason can be 
given, on the assumption of the general historicity of the 
gospels and Acts. Josephus declares himself ^ to be in 
his fifty -sixth year in the thirteenth year of Domitian. 
Then he was bom about the year 38. By his own account,^ 
he began at the age of sixteen to "' make trial of the several 
sects that were among us " — the Pharisees, the Sadducees, 
and the Essenes — and in particular he spent three years 
with a hermit of the desert named Banos, who wore no 
clothing save what grew on trees, used none save wild 
food, and bathed himself daily and nightly for purity's 
sake. Thereafter he returned to Jerusalem, and con- 
formed to the sect of the Pharisees. In the Antiquities,^ 
after describing in detail the three sects before named, 
he gives an account of a fourth *' sect of Jewish philo- 

1 Ecce Deusy p. 230 sq. 2 20 Antiq. xi, 3. 

3 Life, § 2. ^ XVIII, i, 6. 



THE EVOLUTION OF THE CULT 123 

sophy," founded by Judas the Galilean, whose adherents 
in general agree with the Pharisees, but are specially 
devoted to liberty and declare God to be their only ruler, 
facing torture and death rather than call any man lord. 

A careful criticism will recognize a difficulty as to this 
section. Li § 2, as in the Lipe, '' three sects " are specified ; 
and the concluding section has the air of a late addition. 
Seeing, however, that the sect of Judas is stated to have 
begun to give trouble in the procuratorship of Gessius 
Florus, when Josephus was in his twenties, it is quite 
intelligible that he should say nothing of it when naming 
the sects who existed in his boyhood, and that he should 
treat it in a subsidiary way in his fuller account of them 
in the Antiquities. It is not so clear why he should in 
the first section of that chapter call Judas '' a Gaulanite, 
of a city whose name was Gamala," and in the final 
section call him ''Judas the Galilean." There was a 
Gamala in Gaulanitis and another in Galilee. But the 
discrepancy is soluble on the view that the sixth section 
was added some time after the composition of the book. 
There seems no adequate ground for counting it spurious. 

On what theory, then, are we to explain the total 
silence of Josephus as to the existence of the sect of Jesus 
of Nazareth, if there be any historical truth in the gospel 
story ? It is of no avail to suggest that he would ignore it 
by reason of his Judaic hostility to Christism. He is hostile 
to the sect of Judas the Galilean. There is nothing in all 
his work to suggest that he would have omitted to name 
any noticeable sect with a definite and outstanding doctrine 
because he disliked it. He seems much more likely, in that 
case, to have described and disparaged or denounced it. 

And here emerges the hypothesis that he did disparage 
or denounce the Christian sect in some passage which has 
been deleted by Christian copyists, perhaps in the very 



124 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

place now filled by the spurious paragraph, where an 
account of Jesuism as a calamity to Judaism would have 
been relevant in the context. This suggestion is nearly 
as plausible as that of Chwolson, who would reckon the 
existing paragraph a description of a Jewish calamity, 
is absurd. And it is the possibility of this hypothesis 
that alone averts an absolute verdict of non-historicity 
against the gospel story in terms of the silence of Josephus. 
The biographical school may take refuge, at this point, 
in the claim that the Christian forger, whose passage was 
clearly unknown to Origen, perhaps eliminated by his 
fraud a historic testimony to the historicity of Jesus, 
and also an account of the sect of Nazarseans. 

But that is all that can be claimed. The fact remains 
that in the Life, teUing of his youthfid search for a satis- 
factory sect, Josephus says not a word of the existence of 
that of the crucified Jesus ; that he nowhere breathes a 
word concerning the twelve apostles, or any of them, or 
of Paul ; and that there is no hint in any of the Fathers 
of even a hostile account of Jesus by him in any of his 
works, though Origen makes much of the allusion to 
James the Just/ — also dismissible as an interpolation, 
like another to the same effect cited by Origen, but not 
now extant.^ There is therefore a strong negative 
presumption to be set against even the forlorn hypo- 
thesis that the passage forged in Josephus by a Christian 
scribe ousted one which gave a hostile testimony. 

Over a generation ago, Mr. George Solomon of Kingston, 
Jamaica, noting the general incompatibility of Josephus 
with the gospel story and the unhistorical aspect of the 
latter, constructed an interesting theory, ^ of which I 

1 20 Antiq. ix, 1. ^ Ecce D&ua, pp. 235-6, 

3 The Jesus of History and the Jesus of Tradition Identified. By 
George Solomon. Reeves and Turner, 1880. 



THE EVOLUTION OF THE CULT 125 

have seen no discussion, but which merits notice here. 
It may be summarized thus : — 

1. Banos is probably the historical original of the gospel 
figure of John the Baptist. 

2. Josephus names and describes two Jesuses, who 
are blended in the figure of the gospel Jesus : (a) the 
Jesus (Wars, VI, v, 3) who predicts '' woe to Jerusalem " ; 
is flogged till his bones show, but never utters a cry; 
makes no reply when challenged ; returns neither thanks 
for kindness nor railing for railing ; and is finally killed 
by a stone projectile in the siege; and (b) Jesus the 
Galilean (Life, §§ 12, 27), son of Sapphias, who opposes 
Josephus, is associated with Simon and John, and has a 
following of " sailors and poor people," one of whom 
betrays him (§ 22), whereupon he is captured by a 
stratagem, his immediate followers forsaking him and 
flying.^ Before this point, Josephus has taken seventy 
of the Galileans with him (§ 14) as hostages, and, making 
them his friends and companions on his journey, sets 
them '' to judge causes." This is the hint for Luke's 
story of the seventy disciples. 

3. The " historical Jesus " of the siege, who is " meek " 
and venerated as a prophet and martyr, beiag combined 
with the '' Mosaic Jesus " of Galilee, a disciple of Judas 
of Galilee, who resisted the Roman rule and helped to 
precipitate the war, the memory of the " sect " of Judas 
the Gaidanite or Galilean, who began the anti-Roman 
trouble, is also transmuted into a myth of a sect of Jesus 
of Galilee, who has fishermen for disciples, is followed by 
poor Galileans, is betrayed by one companion and deserted 

^ Here Mr. Solomon, without offering any explanation, identifies 
Josephus's Jesus son of Sapphias, who was chief magistrate in Tiberias, 
with Jesus the robber captain of the borders of Ptolemais (§ 22) — a 
different person. I give his theory as he puts it. (Work cited, dd 
164^179.) ^^ 



126 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

by the rest, and is represented finally as dying under 
Pontius Pilate, though at that time there had been no 
Jesuine movement. 

4. The Christian movement, thus mythically grounded, 
grows up after the fall of the Temple. Paul's '' the wrath 
is come upon them to the uttermost " (1 Thess. ii, 16) tells 
of the destruction of the Temple, as does Hebrews xii, 
24-28; xiii, 12-14. 

This theory of the construction of the myth out of 
historical elements in Josephus is bbviously speculative 
in a high degree ; and as the construction fails to account 
for either the central rite or the central myth of the 
crucifixion it must be pronounced inadequate to the 
data. On the other hand, the author developes the 
negative case from the silence of Josephus as to the gospel 
Jesus with an irresistible force ; and though none of his 
solutions is foimded-on in the constructive theory now 
elaborated, it may be that some of them are partly valid. 
The fact that he confuses Jesus the robber captain who 
was betrayed, and whose companions deserted him, 
with Jesus the "Mosaic" magistrate of Tiberias, who 
was followed by sailors and poor people, and was *' an 
innovator beyond everybody else," does not exclude the 
argument that traits of one or the other, or of the Jesus 
of the siege, may have entered into the gospel mosaic. 

§ 3. The Myth of the Twelve Apostles 

All careful investigators have been perplexed by the 
manner of the introduction of '' the Twelve " in the 
gospels ; and they would have been still more so if they 
had realized the total absence of any reason in the texts 
for the creation of disciples or apostles at all. Disciples 
to learn — what ? Apostles to teach — what ? The choos - 



THE EVOLUTION OF THE CULT 127 

ing is as plainly mythical as the function. In Mark 
(i, 16) and Matthew (iv, 18), Jesus calls upon the brothers 
Simon and Andrew to leave their fishing and '' become 
fishers of men." They come at the word; and imme- 
diately afterwards the brothers James and John do the 
same. There is no pretence of previous teaching : it is 
the act of the God.^ In Matthew, at the calling of the 
apostle Matthew (ix, 9), who in Mark (ii, 14) becomes 
Levi the son of Alphseus, the procedure is the same : 
'' Follow me." 

Then, with no connective development whatever, we 
proceed at one stroke to the full number.^ Matthew 
actually makes the mission of the twelve the point of 
choosing, saying simply (x, 1) : " And he called unto him 
his twelve disciples," adding their names. In Mark 
(iii, 13) we have constructive myth : — 

And he goeth up into the mountain, and calleth unto 
him whom he himself would : and they went unto him. 
And he appointed twelve, that they might be with him, 
and that he might send them forth to preach, and to 
have authority to cast out devils. 

And the lists converge. Levi has now disappeared from 
Mark's record, and we have instead '' James the son of 
Alphseus," but with Matthew in also. The lists of the 
first two synoptics have been harmonized. In Luke, 
where only three are at first called, after a miracle (v, 1-11), 
the twelve are also summarily chosen on a mountain; 
and here the list varies : Levi, who has been separately 
called (v, 27) as in Mark, disappears here also in favour 
of " James of Alphseus " ; but there is no Thaddseus, and 

' Dr. Conybeare puts it as axiomatic that Jesus always speaks in 
Mark " as a Jew to Jews." Thus are facts " gross as a mountain, open, 
palpable," sought to be outfaced by verbiage. 

^ This aspect of the problem seems to be ignored by Erich Haupt 
{Zum Verstdndnis des Apostolata im neuen Testament 1896), who finds 
the choice of the twelve historical. 



128 THE JESUS PEOBLEM 



there are two Judases, one being '' of James," which may 
mean either son or brother. And this Judas remains on 
the list in the Acts. Candid criticism cannot affirm that 
we have here the semblance of veridical biography. 
The calling of the twelve has been imposed upon an earlier 
narrative, with an arbitrary list, which is later varied. 
The calling of the fishermen, to begin with, is a symbolical 
act, as is the calling of a tax-gatherer. The calling of the 
twelve is a more complicated matter. 

In searching for the roots of a pre-Christian Jesus -cult 
in Palestine, we have noted the probability that it centred 
in a rite of twelve participants, with the '' Anointed 
One," the representative of the God, and anciently the 
actual victim, as celebrating priest. The Anointed One 
is "the Christ"; and the Christ, on the hypothesis, is 
Jesus Son of the Patter. The twelve, as in the case of 
the early Jesus-cult at Ephesus, form as it were " the 
Church." A body of twelve, then, who might term 
themselves ''Brethren of the Lord," may well have been 
one of the starting-points of Jewish Jesuism. 

But the first two synoptics, clearly, started with a 
group of only four disciples, to which a fifth was added ; 
and in John (i, 35-49) the five are made up at once, in 
a still more supernatural manner than in the synoptics, 
two being taken from the following of John the Baptist. 
Then, still more abruptly than in the synoptics, we have 
the completion (vi, 70) : — " Did not I choose you the 
twelve, and one of you is a devil ? " It would be idle to 
say merely that the twelve are suddenly imposed on the 
narrative, leaving a biographical five : the five are just 
as evidently given unhistoricaUy, for some special reason, 
mythical or other. 

Now, though fives and fours and threes are all quasi- 
sacred numbers in the Old Testament, it is noteworthy 



THE EVOLUTION OF THE CULT 129 

that in one of the Talmudic allusions to Jesus Ben-Stada 
he is declared to have had five disciples — Matthai, Nakai 
or Neqai, Nezer or Netzer, Boni or Buni, and also Thoda, 
all of whom are ostensibly though not explicitly described 
as having been put to death. ^ As this passage points to 
tEe Jesus who is otherwise indicated as post-Christian, 
it cannot critically be taken as other than a reference to 
a current Christian list of five, though it may conceivably 
have been a miscarrying reference to the Jesus of the 
reign of Alexander Jannseus. In any case, it is aimed at 
a set of five ; and there is never any Talmudic mention 
of a twelve. If, then, the Talmudic passage was framed 
by way of a stroke against the Christians it must have 
been made at a time when the list of twelve had not been 
imposed on the gospels. Further, it is to be noted that 
it provides for a Matthew, and perhaps for a '' Mark," 
the name " Nakai " being put next to Matthew's; while 
in Boni and Netzer we have ostensible founders for the 
Ebionites and Nazareeans. Finally, Thoda looks like the 
native form of Thaddseus; though it might perhaps 
stand for the Theudas of Acts v, 36. Seeing how names 
are juggled with in the official hst and in the MS. variants 
(" Lebbseus whose surname was Thaddseus " stood in the 
Authorised Version, on the strength of the Codex Bezae), 
it cannot be argued that the Gemara list is not possibly 
an early form or basis of that in the synoptics ; though 
on the other hand the names Boni and Netzer suggest a 
mythopoeic origin for Ebionites and Nazarenes. Leaving 
this issue aside as part of the unsolved problem of the 
Talmudic Jesus, we are again driven to note the unhistoric 
apparition of the twelve. 

Following the documents, we find the later traces 

1 See the passage in Baring Gould's Lost and Hostile Gospels, 1874, 
p. 61 ; and in Herford's Christianity in Talmud and Midrash, 1903, p. 9o! 
K 



130 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

equally un veridical. Matthew is introduced in the Acts 
as being chosen to make up the number of the twelve, 
on the death of Judas ; but never again is such a process 
mentioned; and Matthew plays no part in the further 
narrative. And of course the cult was interdicted from 
further maintenance of the number as soon as it was 
settled that the twelve were to sit on twelve thrones 
judging the twelve tribes of Israel, which had apparently 
been done in an early Judaic form of the Apocalypse 
before it was intimated in the gospels. Even in the 
Epistles, however, there is no real trace of an active 
group of twelve. The number is mentioned only in a 
passage (1 Cor. xv, 5) where there is interpolation upon 
interpolation, for after the statement that the risen Jesus 
appeared '' then to the twelve " there shortly follows 
" then to all the apostles," that is, on the traditionist 
assumption, to the twelve again — the exclusion of Judas 
not being recognized. The first-cited clause could be 
interpolated in order to insert the number; the second 
could not have been inserted if the other were already there. 
That is the sole allusion. We find none where we 
might above all expect it, in the pseudo -biographical 
epistle to the Galatians, though there is mention in the 
opening chapter of " them which were apostles before 
me," " the apostles," '' James the brother of the Lord " 
{never mentioned as an apostle in the gospels unless he be 
James the son of Alphseus or James the son of Zebedee : 
that is, not a brother of Jesus but simply a group -brother), 
and '' James and Cephas and John, who were [or are] 
reputed to be pillars." The language used in verse 6 
excludes the notipn that the writer believed '' the apostles" 
to have had personal intercourse with the Founder. 
Thus even in a pseudepigraphic work, composed after 
Paul's time, there is no suggestion that he had to deal 



THE EVOLUTION OF THE CULT 131 



with the twelve posited by the gospels and the Acts. 
And all the while " apostles " without number continue 
to figure in the documents. They were in fact a numerous 
class in the early Church. It is not surprising that the 
late Professor Cheyne not only rejected the story of the 
Betrayal but declared that '' The ' Twelve Apostles/ 
too, are to me as unhistorical as the seventy disciples." ^ 
On the other hand, we have a decisive reason for the 
invention of the Twelve story in the latterly recovered 
Teaching of the Twelve Apostles ^ (commonly cited 
as the DidachS), a document long current in the early 
church. Of that book, the first six chapters, forming 
nearly half of the matter, are purely ethical and mono- 
theistic, developing the old formula of the " Two Ways " 
of life and death ; and saying nothing of Jesus or Christ 
or the Son, or of baptism or sacrament. Then comes a 
palpably late interpolation, giving a formula for baptism 
in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. 
Even in the ninth section, dealing with the Eucharist, 
we have only " the holy vine of David thy Servant, which 
thou hast made known to us through Jesus thy Servant." ^ 
The tenth, which is evidently later, and is written as 
a conclusion, retains that formula. After that come 
warnings against false apostles and prophets ; and only 
in the twelfth section does the word " Christian " occur. 
Still later there is specified " the Lord's-day (xvQtaxrjv) 
of the Lord.'" Then comes a prescription for the election 
of bishops ; and the document ends with a chapter 
preparing for the expected "last days." 

Here then we have an originally Jewish document, 

^ Hibbert Journal, July, 1911, cited by Prof. Smith, Ecce Deue, p. 318. 

2 CM. 344. For the convenience of the reader I reprint in an 
Appendix an annotated translation I published in 1891 — a revision of 
that of Messrs. Hitchcock and Brown, compared with a number of others 

^ Cp. " His Servant Jesus " in Acts iii, 13, 26; iv, 27, 30. 



132 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

bearing the title Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, 
adopted and gradually added to by early Jesuists who did 
not deify Jesus, though like the early Christians in general 
they expected the speedy end of the world. Though their 
Jesus is not deified, he has no cognomen. He is neither 
" of Nazareth," nor ** the Nazarite ; " and he is an osten- 
sibly mythical figure, not a teacher but a rite-founder, 
for his adherents. They do not belong to an organized 
Church ; and the baptismal section, with its Trinitarian 
formula, is quite certainly one of the latest of all. The 
eighth, which connects quite naturally with the sixth, 
and which contains the " Lord's Prayer," raises the ques- 
tion whether it belonged to the pre-Christian document, 
and has been merely interpolated with the phrase as to 
" the Lord ... his gospel." There are strong reasons 
for regarding the Lord's Prayer as a pre-Christian Jewish 
composition,^ founded on very ancient Semitic prayers. 
Seeing that " the Lord " has in all the previous sections 
of the treatise clearly meant " God " and not " Christ," 
the passage about the gospel is probably Jesuist ; but 
it does not at all follow that the Prayer is. 

Mr. Cassels, in the section on the Teaching added by 
him in the one-volume reprint of his great work, points ^ 
to the fact that in the recovered fragment of a Latin 
translation of an early version of " The Two Ways," 
there do not occur the passages connecting with the 
Sermon on the Mount which are found in the Teaching ; 
and as the same holds of the Two Ways section of the 
Epistle of Barnabas, it may fairly be argued that it 
was a Christian hand that added them here. But when 
we note that at the points at which the passages in the 
Teaching vary from the gospel — as " Gentiles " for 

1 CM. 415 aq. 

2 Supernatural Religion, R.P.A. rep. p. 153. 



THE EVOLUTION OF THE CULT 133 

"' tax-gatherers," ^ — the term in the former is perfectly 
natural for Jewish teachers addressing Jews in Grentile 
countries, and that in the latter rather strained in an 
exhortation to Jews in their own country, it becomes 
very conceivable that this is the original, or a prior form, 
of the gospel passage. The Sermon on the Moimt is 
certainly a compilation. This then may have been one 
of the sources. And it is quite conceivable that the 
Jewish Apostles should teach their people not to pray 
"as do the hypocrites," an expression which Mr. Cassels 
takes to be directed by Jesuists against Jews in general. 
Seeing that even conservative critics have admitted 
the probable priority of the Teaching to Baewabas, 
it is no straining of the probabilities to suggest that the 
Two Ways section of Barnabas is either a variant, 
inspired by the Teaching, on what was clearly a very 
popular line of homily, ^ or an annexation of another 
Jewish homily of that kind. That in the Teaching is 
distinctly the better piece of work, as we should expect 
the official manual of the Apostles of the High Priest to 
be. It is inexact to say, as does Dr. M. E.. James, ^ that 
the section ''reappears " in Barnabas. There are many 
differences, as well as many identities. The other is not 
a mere copy, but an exercise on the same standard 
theme, with '' light and darkness " for the stronger '' life 
and death." It is a mistake to suppose that there was 
a definite '' original " of "The Two Ways " : it is a 
standing ethical theme, evidently handled by many.^ 
If, then, the Teaching preceded Barnabas, it may al- 
ready have contained, in its purely Jewish form, the 
Lord's Prayer, which is so thoroughly Jewish, and items 

^ See the notes to translation in Appendix. 

2 It goes back to Jeremiah, xxi, 8. ^ Encyc. Bib. i, 261. 

* Cp. Prof. A. Seeberg, Die Didache des Judentums und der Urchrist- 
enheit, 1908, p. 8; and his previous works, cited by him. 



134 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

of the Sermon on the Mount, which is certainly a Jewish 
compilation. And the justified critical presumption is 
that it did contain them. The onus of disproof Ues on 
the Christian side. 

We now reach our solution. The original document 
was in any case a manual of teaching used among the 
scattered Jews and proselytes of the Dispersion by the 
actual and historical Twelve Apostles either of the High 
Priest before or of the Patriarch after the fall of Jeru- 
salem. The historic existence of that body before and 
after the catastrophe is undisputed ; ^ and the nature 
of its teaching functions can be confidently inferred from 
the known currency of a Judaic ethical teaching in the 
early Christian period. The demonstration of that is 
supplied by an expert of the biographical school who 
considers the Teaching to have been " known to Jesus 
and the Baptist." ^ Such a document cannot rationally 
be supposed to be a compilation made by or for Christists 
using the gospels ; such a compilation would have given 
the gospel view of Jesus. ^ The primary Teaching, 
including as it probably does the Lord's Prayer, is the 
earlier thing : the gospels use it. It is in fact one of the 
first documents of '' Christianity," if not the first. And 
its titular " twelve apostles " are Jewish and not Christian. 

Given, then, such a document in the hands of the 
early Jesuist organization — or one of the organizations — 
twelve apostles had to be provided in the legend to take 
the credit for the Teaching.* The new cult, once it 

^ CM. 344. 2 ^_ Seeberg, work cited, p. 1. 

3 Dr. Conybeare nevertheless {Histor. Christ, p. 3) calls it a " char- 
acteristically Christian doctmient," in an argument which maintains 
the early currency and general historicity of Mark. 

* This thesis was put in CM. 345. Yet Dr. Conybeare alleges (p. 20) 
that I represent Jesus as surrounded by twelve disciples solely because 
of the twelve signs of the zodiac. The latter item is given simply as an 
explanation of the calling of the twelve on a mountain (412), which Dr. 
Conybeare finds quite historical. 



THE EVOLUTION OF THE CULT 135 

was shaped to the end of superseding the old, had to 
provide itself to that extent, by myth, with the same 
machinery. No step in the myth-theory is better estab- 
lished than this ; and no non-miraculous item in the legend 
is more recalcitrant than the twelve story to the assump- 
tions of the biographical schooL The gospel list of the 
twelve is one of the most unmanageable things in the 
record. In a narrative destitute of detail where detail is 
most called for, we get a list of names, most of which 
count for nothing in the later history, to give a semblance 
of actuality to an invented institution. We have clearly 
unhistorical detail as to five, no detail whatever as to 
further accessions, and then a body of twelve suddenly 
constituted. For some of us, the discovery of the 
Teaching was a definite point of departure in the pro- 
gression toward the myth-theory ; audit supplies us with 
the firmest starting-point for our theoretic construction 
of the process by which the organized Christian Church 
took shape. 

§ 4. The Process of Propaganda 

On the view here taken, there was at Jerusalem, at some 
time in the first century, a smaU group of Jesuist " apos- 
tles " among whom the chief may have been named 
James, John, and Cephas. They may have been members 
of a ritual group of twelve, who may have styled them- 
selves Brothers of the Lord ; but that group in no way 
answered to the Twelve of the gospels. Of the apostle 
class the number was indefinite. Besides the apostles, 
further, there would seem to have been an indefinite 
number of '' prophets," indicative of a cult of somewhat 
long standing. The adherents believed in a non-historic 
Jesus, the " Servant " of the Jewish God, somehow 
evolved out of the remote Jesus-God who is reduced 



136 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

to human status in the Old Testament as Joshua. And 
their central secret rite consisted in a symbolic sacrament, 
evolved out of an ancient sacrament of human sacrifice, 
in which the victim had been the representative of the 
God, sacrificed to the God, in the fashion of a hundred 
primitive cults. This rite had within living memory, 
if not still at the time from which we start, been accom- 
panied by an annual popular rite in which a selected 
person— probably a criminal released for the purpose — 
was treated as a temporary king, then derided, and then 
either in mock show or in actual fact executed, under 
the name of Jesus Barabbas, '^ the Son of the Father." 
Of this ancient cult there were inferribly many scat- 
tered centres outside of Judea, including probably some 
in Samaria, the special region of the celebration of the 
Hero-God Joshua. There was one such group in Ephesus ; 
and probably another at Alexandria, and another at 
Antioch; Jews of the Dispersion having possibly taken 
the cult with them. But the cult outside Jewry may 
have had non-Jewish roots, though it merged with Jewish 
elements. So long as the Temple at Jerusalem lasted, 
the small cult counted for very little ; and it was probably 
after the fall of Jerusalem ^ that its leaders added to 
their machinery the rite of baptism, which the synoptic 
gospels treat as a specialty of the movement of John 
the Baptist. Him they represent as a " forerunner " 
of the Christ, who imder divine inspiration recognizes 
the Messianic claims of Jesus. All this is plainly un- 
historical, even on the assumption of the historicity of 
Jesus. 2 Whatever may be the historic facts as to John 

^ It was probably about the year 80 that the Jewish authorities 
framed the formula by which they sought to mark off '* the Minim " 
from the Judaic fold. — Herford, Christianity in Talmud^ pp. 135, 385-7. 

^ Mr. Lester {The Historic JeauSy p. 84) argues that the baptism of 
Jesue by John must be historical, since to invent it would be gratuitously 



THE EVOLUTION OF THE CULT 137 

the Baptist, who is a very dubious figure/ the marked 
divergence between the s5nioptics and the fourth gospel 
on the subject of baptism ^ show that that rite was not 
originally Jesuist, but was adopted by the Jesuists as 
a means of popular appeal. 

The recognition of this fact is a test of the critical 
good faith of those who profess to found on the synoptics 
for a history of the beginnings of the Jesuist cult. Canon 
Robinson ® treats as unquestionably historical one of 
the contradictory statements in John iv, 1-2, of which 
the first affirms that Jesus baptized abundantly, while 
the second, an evidently interpolated parenthesis, asserts 
that only the disciples baptized, not Jesus. Though 
this interpolation hinges on the first dictum, the Canon 
accepts it to the exclusion of that, its basis. But the 
original writer could not have put the proposition thus 
had he believed it. What he affirmed was abundant 
baptizing by Jesus. Of this, however, the synoptics 
have no more hint than they have of baptizing by the 
disciples. On any possible view of the composition of 
the synoptics, it is inconceivable that they should omit 
all mention of baptizing by Jesus or the disciples if such 
a practice was affirmed in the early tradition. For them 
baptism is the institution of the Forerimner, who is 
mythically represented as hailing in Jesus his successor 
or supersessor, with no suggestion of a continuance of 
the rite. If there is to be any critical consistency in the 
biographical argument, it must at least recognize that 
baptism is non-Jesuine. 

The embodiment of the rite of baptism on the basis of 
the Baptist's alleged acclamation of Jesus as the Messiah 



to make him '* in a way subordinate to John." But when John is put 

as the Forerunner, acclaiming the Messiah, where is the subordination ' 

1 CM. 396. 2 Hj^ i3g_g 3 Encyc. Bib. art. Baptism. 



138 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

either carried with it or followed upon the claim that 
Jesus, hitherto regarded as a simple Saviour-God, was a 
Messiah. After the fall of Jerusalem, the old dream 
of an earthly Messiah who should restore the Kingdom 
of Judah or Israel ^ was shattered for the vast majority 
of Jews. Even in the Assumption of Moses, in the main 
the work of a Quietist Pharisee, written in Hebrew 
probably between 7 and 29 of the first century, ^ there 
is a virtual abandonment of Messianism, the task of 
overthrowing the Gentiles being assigned to " the Most 
High." 3 In the composite Apocalypse of Bartjch, 
written in Hebrew, mainly by Pharisaic Jews, in the 
latter half of the first century, probably as an implicit 
polemic against early Jesuism,^ we see the effect of the 
catastrophe. In the sections written before the fall of 
Jerusalem, the hope of a Messianic Kingdom is proclaimed ; 
in those written later there is either at most a hope of 
a Messianic Eangdom without a Messiah or a complete 
abandonment of mundane expectations.^ What the 
Jesuist movement did was to develop, outside of Jewry,^ , 
the earlier notion of a Messiah " concealed," pre-appointed, 
and coming from heaven to effect the consummation of 
all things earthly."^ 

Such Messianism may have either preceded or pro- 
ceeded-on an adoption of the rite of baptism. Given a 
resort to Messianism by the Jesuists after the fall of 
Jerusalem, the alleged testimony of the Baptist to Jesus 
as the Appointed One might be the first step ; and the 
resort to the baptismal rite would follow on the myth 

^ A temporary Messianic Kingdom is set forth about 100 B.C. in 
the Book of Jubilees (ed. Charles, 1902, introd. p. Ixxxvii). 

2 Charles, introd. to the Aaaunvption of Moses, 1897, pp. xiii-xiv, liv. 
2 Id. pp. xi, 41. 

* Charles, introd. to the Apocalypse of Baruch, 1896, pp. vii-viii. 
5 Jd. p. Iv, and refs. ^ See above, p. 117, w. "^ Above, p. 66. 



THE EVOLUTION OF THE CULT 139 



that Jesus had been actually baptized by John. In 
Acts, i, 5, Jesus is in effect made to represent John's 
baptism with water as superseded by a baptism in the 
Holy Ghost. ^ In the Pauline epistles we have trace 
of a conflict over this as over other Judaic practices, 
Paul being made to declare (1 Cor. i, 17) that " Christ 
sent me not to baptize but to preach the gospel," though 
he admits having baptized a few.^ All that is clear is 
that the Jesuists were not primarily baptizers ; that they 
began to baptize " in the name of Jesus Christ," ^ with 
a formula of the Holy Ghost and fire, but really in the 
traditional manner with water; and that long after- 
wards they feigned that the Founder had prescribed 
baptism with a trinitarian formula.^ 

Thus far, the local movement was not only Jewish 
but Judaic. It may or may not have been before the 
fall of Jerusalem that a Jesuist '' apostle " named Paul 
conceived the idea of creating by propaganda a new 
Judseo -Jesuist movement appealing to Gentiles. Such 
an idea is not the invention of Paul or any other Jesuist ; 
the idea of a Messianic Kingdom in which the Gentiles 
should be saved is found in the Jewish Testaments of 
THE Twelve Patriarchs, written in Hebrew by a 
Pharisee between the years 109 and 106 b.c.^ But, 
thus made current, it might well be adopted by Jesuists. 
The reason for supposing this to have begun before the 
year 70 is not merely the tradition to that effect but 
the fact that in none of the epistles do we have any trace 
of that " gospel of the Kingdom " which in the synoptics 



1 Cp. Mk. i, 8. 

^ In Hebrews vi, 2, also, baptism appears to be disparaged. But 
vv. 1-2 are incoherent. Green's translation gives a passable sense : 
the R.V. does not. 

3 Acts X, 48. * Mt. xxviii, 19. Cp. Mk. xvi, 16. 

^ Testaments, ed. Charles, 1908, pp. xvi, 121. 



140 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

is posited as the evangel of Jesus. That evangel, which 
is a simple duplication of the alleged evangel of the 
Baptist, and which we have seen to be wholly mythical, 
being devoid of possible historic content,^ is part of the 
apparatus of the retrospective Messianic claim. But 
the Pauline Epistles, even as they show no knowledge 
of the name Nazareth, or Nazarsean, or Nazarene, or of 
any gospel teaching, also show no concern over a " gospel 
of the Kingdom." Whether or not, then, they are 
wholly pseudepigraphic, they suggest that a Paulinism of 
some kind was an early feature in the Jesuist evolution. 

According to the Acts, Paul's name was originally 
Saul, though no such avowal is ever made in the epistles. 
The purpose of the statement seems to be to strengthen 
the case as to his Jewish nationality, which is affirmed 
in the epistles, as is the item that he had been a mur- 
derous persecutor of the early Jesuists. All this suggests 
a late manipulation of the traditions of an early strife. 
To claim that the Gentilizing Apostle had been a Jew 
born and bred would be as natural on the Gentilizing side 
as to allege that the typically Judaic Peter had denied 
his Lord ; while the charge of persecuting the infant 
church would be a not less natural invention of the Judaic 
Christians who accepted the tradition that Paul had been 
a Pharisee and a pupil of Gamaliel. In point of fact 
we find the Ebionites, the typical Judaic Jesuists, knowing 
him simply as '' Paul of Tarsus " in their version of the 
Acts or in a previous document upon which that founded.^ 
And many Jewish scholars have declared that they can- 
not conceive the Pauline epistles to have been written 
by a Eabbinically trained Jew.^ This does not preclude 

1 H.J. ch. vi. 

2 Van Manen, as summarized by Mr. Whittaker, Origins of Chria- 
tianity, ed. 1914, p. 78, citing Epiphanius, Hcer. xxx, 16. 

3 Id. pp. 124-5, 199. 



THE EVOLUTION OF THE CULT 141 

the possibility that the original Paul, of whose '' few very 
short epistles " personally penned ^ we have probably 
nothing left that is identifiable,^ may have been such a 
Jew, but the presumption is to the contrary. 

On the face of the case, nothing was more natural 
than that the Jesuist movement should appeal to civilized 
Gentiles. Judaism itself did so, striving much after 
proselytes. The question was whether the Jesuist 
proselytes should be made on a strictly Judaic basis. 
Now, even if the fall of Jerusalem had not given the 
impetus to a severance of the cult from the dominating 
religion, the sacred domicile being gone, it is obvious 
that an abandonment of such a Jewish bar as circum- 
cision would give the developing cult a great advantage 
over the other in propaganda among Gentiles. Circum- 
cision must have been a highly repellent detail for Hel- 
lenistic Gentiles in general ; and a gospel which dispensed 
with it would have a new chance of making headway. 
And such a severance certainly took place, though we 
can put no reliance on the chronology of the Acts.^ Paul ^ 
remains a doubtfully dated figure, because the chronology 
of the whole cult is problematic. 

But we can broadly distinguish between a *' Petrine " 
and a '' Pauline " Christism. In the Acts (ii, 22-40), 
which clearly embodies earlier lore, prior to that of the 
gospels, the Jesus Christ preached by Peter is not repre- 
sented as a saving sacrifice. As little is he a Teacher, 
though he is a doer of " mighty works and wonders and 
signs." If we were to apply the biographical method, 

^ Eusebius, Eccles, Hist, iii, 24. 

2 Cp. Van Manen in Whittaker, p. 182. 

3 E.g. the dating of the rising of Theudas before the " enrolment " 
of Luke (6 c.E.) ; whereas Josephus places it about the year 45. 

* The reference to " Aretas the King " in 2 Cor. xi, 32, one of the 
few possible clues in the Epistles, yields no certain date, and indeed 
creates a crux for the historians. See art. Aretas in Encyc. Bib, 



142 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

the presentment might be held to indicate the Talmudic 
Jesus. Only after his resurrection *' God hath made him 
both Lord and Christ" — that is, Messiah; and the 
Jewish hearers are invited to '' repent " and be '' bap- 
tized ... in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission 
of your sins." Peter's Jesus, like him of the Teaching, 
is the *' Servant " of God, not his Son. And there is 
no mention of a sacrament, though there is noted a 
" breaking of bread at home " (42, 46) recalling the 
'' broken " (bread) of the Didache. The sacrament, 
then, was apparently a secret rite for the Jewish group. 
The speeches, of course, are quite unhistorical : we can 
but take them as embodying a traditional " Petrine " 
teaching with later matter. Thus we have baptism 
figuring as a Jesuist rite, whereas in the synoptics, as we 
have seen, there had been no such thing. The story of 
Peter being brought to the pro-Gentile view is pure 
ecclesiastical myth, probably posterior to the Pauline 
epistles, which are ignored but counteracted in so far as 
they posit strife between Pauline and Petrine propaganda. 
Peter and Paul alike are made to teach that '' it behoved 
the Christ to suffer" (iii, 18; xvii, 3), even as they 
duplicate their miracles, their escapes, and their sufferings. 
But while Peter is pretended to have accepted Gentilism, 
it is Paul who acts on the principle ; and he it is who is 
first represented as fighting pagan polytheism, notably 
at Ephesus (xix, 26). At Athens, in a plainly fictitious 
speech, he is made to expound the '' unknown God " of 
an Athenian agnostic cult in terms of Jewish opposition 
to image-worship, indicating Jesus merely as '^ a man" 
raised by God from the dead to judge the world at the 
judgment day. It is after this episode that he is made 
to tell the Jews of Corinth he will *' henceforth go unto 
the Gentiles." Nevertheless he is made to go on preach- 



THE EVOLUTION OE THE CULT 143 

ing to the Jews. The narrative as a whole is plainly 
factitious : aU we can hope to do is to detect some of 
its historic data. 

Two things must be kept clearly and constantly in 
view : first, that what we understand by a literary and 
a historical conscience simply did not exist in the early 
Christian environment ; second, that in all probability 
the Acts, which to start with would be a blend of tradition 
and fiction, is much manipulated during a long period. 
We are not entitled to assume that an " original " writer 
duplicated the careers of Peter and Paul for purposes 
of edification. One or more may have wrought one 
narrative, and a later hand or hands may have systemati- 
cally interpolated the other. ^ We are to remember 
further that it was an age in which most Christians, 
assimilating the eschatology of the Persians and the 
Jews — the spontaneous dream of crushed peoples — 
expected the speedy end of the world, and did their 
thinking on that basis. In such a state of mind, critical 
thought could not exist save as a small element in 
religious polemic. 

Let us then see what we reach on the hypothesis that 
early Jesuism even in the first century, and possibly 
even before the fall of Jerusalem, was running in two 
different channels — one movement adhering to Jewish 
usage, making Jesus the Servant of God, and conceiving 
him as a God-gifted Healer whose death raised him to 
the status of the Messiah, the promised Christ or Anointed 
One who should either close the earthly scene or bring 
about a new God-ruled era for the Jews. For the holders 
of this view, the Kingdom of God was coming. Jesus was 
ere long to come in the clouds in great glory and inaugurate 
the new life. To ask for clear conceptions on such a 
^ Cp. Van Manen, as cited. 



144 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

matter from such minds would be idle. There were 
none. The one idea connected with the mythical evangel 
was that Jews should repent and prepare for the new life. 
To that elusive minimum the latest biographical analysis, 
assuming the historicity, reduces the '' ministry " of the 
gospel Jesus. ^ The rest is all post-apostolic accretion. 
On the other hand, the Petrine Jesus has proved his 
mission for his devotees, first and last, by miracles, and 
by his resurrection — things which the biographical school 
rejects as imaginary. 

Upon this movement there enters an innovator, Paul 
of Tarsus. Round him, as round Peter, there are clouds 
of myth. That he was originally Saul, a Pharisee, a 
pupil of Gamaliel ; that he began as a bitter persecutor 
of the Jesuists ; and that he was converted by a super- 
natural vision, become common data for the church. 
That the charge of persecution was a Judaic figment, 
on the other hand, is perhaps as likely as that the story 
of Peter's denial of his Master was a Gentile figment. 
We are in a world of purposive fiction. But the broad 
divergence of doctrine seems to underlie all the fables, 
Saul, on the later view, changes his Jewish name to the 
Grecian Paul when he plans to make the Jesus-cult non- 
Jewish, using the tactic of monotheism against pagan 
polytheism in general, in the very act of adding a Son- 
God to the Jewish Father-God, as so many Son-Gods 
had been added to Father-Gods throughout religious 
history. To the early Jewish Jesuists, the notion of the 
Son had been given by the old cult of sacrifice, with its 
Jesus the Son — an idea obscurely but certainly present, 
as we have seen, in the lore of the Talmudists. 

Clearly it was the Pauline movement that made of 
Christism a '' viable '' world religion. As an unorganized 
1 HJ, 199-203. 



THE EVOLUTION OF THE CULT 145 

Saviour-cult it would have died out like others. As a 
phase of Judaism, it could have had no Jewish permanence, 
simply because its Messianism was a matter of looking 
daily for an " end of the world " that did not come. 
After two centuries of waiting, the Jews would have had 
as clear a right to pronounce Jesus a " false Messiah " 
as they had in the case of Barcochab or any other before 
or since. The mere belief in a future life, at one time 
excluded from their Sacred Books, had become the com- 
mon faith, only the aristocratic Sadducees (probably not 
all of them) rejecting it. On that side, Jesuism gave 
them nothing. Well might Paul " turn to the Gentiles " — 
albeit not under the circumstances theologically imagined 
for him in the book of Acts. 

Even for the Gentiles, Jesuism was but one of many 
competing cults, offering similar attractions. Li the 
religions of Adonis, Attis, Isis and Osiris, Dionysos, 
Mithra, and the Syrian Mamas ('' the Lord, a variant 
of Adonis =Adonai, one of the Jews' exoteric names for 
Yahweh "), a resplendent ever-youthful God who had 
died to rise again was sacramentally adored, mourned 
for, and rejoiced over, by devotees just as absorbed in 
their faith as were the Jesuists. With vague pretences 
of biographical knowledge, to which nobody now attaches 
any credence, they were as sure of the historicity of their 
Vegetation-Gods and Sun-Gods as the Christists were of 
the actuality of theirs. Had a Frazer of the second 
century told them that their Adonis and Attis were but 
abstractions of the annual sacrificial victim of old time, 
they would have told him, in the manner of Festus (not 
yet obsolete), that much learning had made him mad. 
They '' knew " that their Redeemer had lived, died, and 
risen again. The unbelief of philosophers, or of scoffers 
like Lucian, affected them no more than scientific and 

L 



146 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

critical unbelief to-day disturbs the majority of unthinking 
Christians. The busy sacrificial and devotional life of 
Hierapolis would be as little affected by Lucian's tranqxiil 
exhibition of it as the life at Lourdes has been by Zola's 
novel. On that side, we can very easily understand the 
past by the present. 

So little psychic or intellectual difference was there 
between Jesuism and the other ''isms" that Paul's 
propaganda made no measurable sensation in the coUuvies 
of the Roman empire. As Renan avows, even on the 
assumption of the genuineness of the Epistles, he was the 
missioner of a number of small conventicles, all convinced 
that they alone were the " true Church of God upon 
earth." It is an error of perspective to ascribe extra- 
ordinary faculty to the missionary who either converted 
or 'Established" such believers; and it is plainly un- 
necessary to assume in his case any abnormal sincerity 
or persuasiveness. If we were to estimate him in terms 
of the records we should describe him either as a hallucine 
or as a fanatic who had shed Christian blood in his Judaic 
stage and never in the least learned humility on that 
score, his phrases of contrition being balanced by the 
fiercest asperities towards aU who withstood him in his 
Christian stage. But we have no right to draw a portrait 
of *' Paul," who is left to us a composite of literary figments 
testifying only to the previous activity of a propagandist 
so -named. 

One conclusion, however, holds alike whether or not 
we accept any of the epistles as genuine : or rather, 
the more we lean on the epistles the more it holds : 
Paul had no concern about the life, teachings, or " per- 
sonality " of his Jesus. ^ His Jesus, be it said once more, 
is a speechless abstraction. One of the strangest fallacies 
^ Cp. Schmiedel, art. Gospels in Encyc. Bib. col. 1890. 



THE EVOLUTION OF THE CULT 147 

in the procedure of the biographical school is the assump- 
tion that the acceptance of the epistles as genuine involves 
the admission of the historicity of the Founder. In 
actual fact, it was a belief in the substantial genuineness 
of the main epistles that first strengthened the present 
writer in his first surmises of the non-historicity of the 
entire gospel record ; just as a perception of the historical 
situation broadly set forth in Judges confirms doubt as 
to the historicity of the record of the Hexateuch. The two 
will not consist. On the other hand, Van Manen, who had 
previously been troubled about the historicity of Jesus, 
was positively set at rest on that score when he reached 
the conclusion that all the Paulines were supposititious. 
This happened simply because he had scientifically 
covered the field only on the Pauline side : had he applied 
equivalent tests to the gospels, he would have reached 
there too a verdict of fabrication. There is strictly no 
absolute sequitur in such a case. The myth-theory is 
neither made nor marred by the rejection of the Paulines. 
Even those who cannot realize the indifference of 
*' Paul " to aU personal records of his Jesus — or, recog- 
nizing it, are content to explain it away by formulas- — 
must see on consideration that belief in a Saviour God no 
more needed biographical basis in the case of Paul than 
in the case of the priests of Mithra, who, it may be noted, 
had a strong centre at Tarsus.^ There is a certain plau- 
sibility in the argument that only a great personality 
could have made possible the belief in the Resurrection 
story — though that too is fallacy — but there is no plausi- 
bility in inferring that a conception of a personality he 
had never personally known was needed to impel Paul 
to Ms evangel, which is simply one of future salvation 
by divine sacrifice for all who believe. That is the 

1 P.O. 316 n. 



148 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

substitution made by Gentile Christism for the miscarry- 
ing Messianism of the Petrine doctrine. It was probably 
the normal doctrine of many pagan cults — Mithraism 
for one, which for three hundred years, by common 
consent, was the outstanding rival of Christianity in the 
Roman empire.^ It was, then, no specialty of dogma 
that ultimately determined the success of the one and 
the disappearance of the other. It was a concatenation 
of real or ''external" causes, not a peculiarity of mere 
belief. 

§ 5. Real Determinants 

The more we study comparatively the fortunes of the 
Christian and the rival cults, the more difficult it is to 
conceive that it made headway in virtue of sheer mono- 
theism. If we assume that Judaism had made its prose- 
lytes in the pagan world by reason of the appeal made by 
its monotheism to the more thoughtful minds, we are 
bound to infer that Christism was on that side rather 
at a disadvantage, inasmuch as it was reaUy adding a 
new deity, with a " Holy Spirit " superadded, to the 
God of the Jews. 

But the ordinary argument as to the vogue of " pure 
monotheism " at any time is in the main a series of 
traditional assumptions. For the more thoughtful of 
the ancients, polytheism was always tending to pass 
into monotheism. We see the process going on in the 
Vedas, in Brahmanism, in the Egyptian system, in the 
Babylonian — to say nothing of the Greek. ^ It proceeded 
partly by way of henotheism — the tendency to exalt 
any particular deity as the deity : partly by way of the 
compelled surmise that all the deities of the popular 

^ P.C. 281. 

^ See S.H.F.y chs. iii and v; and cp. Whittaker, Priests, PhiloaopherSf 
and Prophets, 1911. 



THE EVOLUTION OF THE CULT 149 

creeds were but aspects or names of one all -controlling 
Power. Wherever creeds met, the more thoughtful were 
driven to ask themselves whether the heavens could be 
a mere reflex of the earth, with every nation represented 
by its special God; and to fuse the national Gods into 
one was but a step to fusing the Gods of the various 
natural forces into one. Since religions became organized, 
there must always have been monotheists, as there must 
always have been unbelievers. 

Nevertheless, polytheism is just as surely popular as 
monotheism is inevitable to the more thoughtful who 
remain " religious " in the natural sense of the term. 
One of the great delusions maintained by the acceptance 
of the falsified history of Judaism and the conventional 
religion of the Bible is the notion that the Jews were a 
specially monotheistic people. They were not.^ They 
were originally tribalists like their neighbours, holding 
by a tribal God and a hierarchy of inferior Gods. To 
this day we are seriously told that Abraham made a 
new departure as a monotheist. Abraham is a mythical 
patriarch, himself once a deity ; and the deity represented 
to have been believed in by Abraham is a tribal God. 
And not even the tribal God was monotheistically wor- 
shipped. The Sacred Books are one long chain of com- 
plaints against the Israelites for their perpetual resort 
to *' strange Gods " — and Goddesses.^ 

Two brilliant French scholars have advanced the thesis 
that this alleged polytheism is imaginary ; ^ and that 
the Israelites in the mass always worshipped only the 
One God Yahweh.^ But this position, which is grounded 

1 P.C. 67 sq. 2 sjj p^ ck. iv. 

3 First put by M. Maurice Vernes, Du pritendu poh/thdisme des 
Hebreux, 1891. 

* See The Source of the Christian Tradition, by E. Dujardin : Eng. 
trans. R.P.A., p. 32 ; and the citations from MM. Vernes and Dujardin 
in Mr. WhittaJser's Priests, Philosophers, and Prophets, 19U, pp. 124-127. 



150 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

on the inference that the mass of the historical and 
prophetic literature is post-exilic, outgoes its own grounds. 
Even if we assume, with the theorists, that Jewish mono- 
theism was universalist from the moment it took shape 
as monotheism in literature/ we get rid neither of the 
question, of pre-exilic polytheism nor of that of popular 
survival. To say that the post-exilic Jews are '' the only 
Jews known to history," and that the apparently old 
lore in Genesis is " perhaps really the most modem," 
being invented for purposes of parable, is only a screening 
of the fact that the Hebrews evolved religiously like 
other peoples. A resort to alien Gods is seen to be 
universal in the religious history of the ancient world. 
Every conquered race was suspected to have secret 
power in respect of " the God of the land ^ " ; and where - 
ever races mixed, cults mixed. It is only on a provision 
of special Sacred Books, themselves treated as fetishes, 
that the attractions of alien cults can be repelled; and 
not even Sacred Books can make real monotheists of 
an uncultured majority. Even later Judaism, with its 
angels, its Metatron, its Satan, was never truly mono- 
theistic.^ Islam is not. The universalism which in later 
Judaism still commonly passes for a specialty of the 
Hebrew mind was really an assimilation and development 
of Perso -Babylonian ideas ; * and Satan made a dualism of 
the Jewish creed even as Ahriman did of the Persian. 

1 Mr. Whittaker (p. 128) puts the view that Jewish monotheism 
was really a reduction of the universalist monotheism of the Meso- 
potamian priesthoods to the purposes of a nationalist God-cult. 

2 S.H.F. i, 44-46. 

^ Even Dean Inge avows that " The distinctive featiu-e of the Jewish 
religion is not, as is often supposed, its monotheism. Hebrew religion 
in its golden age was monolatry rather than monotheism; and when 
Jehovah became more strictly the only God, the cult of intermediate 
beings came in, and restored a, quaei-polytheism."— Art. "St. Paul" 
in Quarterly Review, 3q.ti. 1914, p. 54. 

■^ See, however, the contrary thesis maintained by Dr. A. Causse, 
Les Prophetes d'lsrael et les religions de Vorientj 1913. 



THE EVOLUTION OF THE CULT 151 

In the Romanized world, Judaism had never a reaUy 
great success of proselytism, just because the more 
cultured had their own monotheism, and had in Greek 
literature something more satisfactory than the Hebraic, 
with its barbaric basis of racialism and its apparatus of 
circumcision, synagogues and Sabbaths. The proselytes 
were made in general among the less cultured — ^not 
the populace, but the serious men of religious predilec- 
tions, who were the more impressed by the Sacred Books 
as rendered in the Septuagint because they were not at 
home in the higher ^literature of Greece. And if Judaism 
could not sweep the Roman empire in virtue of mono- 
theism, Christism could not, especially while it lacked 
sacred books of its own. 

Professor Smith's thesis of a rapid monotheistic triumph 
is partly founded on his own vivid interpretation of 
many of the gospel stories of cast-out demons and diseases 
as a symbolism for successes against polytheism. And 
his symbolistic interpretation, which is at first sight apt 
to seem arbitrary, is really important at many points, 
accounting as it does convincingly for a number of gospel 
stories. But if we are to assume that all the gospel 
stories of casting out devils, curing lepers, healing the 
lame, and giving sight to the blind, were composed with 
a symbolic intent, we shall stHl be left asking on what 
groimds the Name of Jesus made any popular appeal 
before and after the symbolizing gospels were compiled. 

Professor Smith draws a powerful picture of the relief 
given by monotheism to polytheists. In his eloquent 
words, the '' tyranny of demons " had " trodden down 
humanity in dust and mire since the first syllable of 
recorded time " ; and the new proclamation '' roused 
a world, dissolved the fetters of the tyrannizing demons, 
set free the prisoners of superstition, poured light upon 



152 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

the eyes of the blind, and called a universe to life." ^ 
But let us be clear as to the facts. If by '* demons" 
we understand the Oods of the heathen, there was really 
no more '' bondage " under polytheism than under mono- 
theism. Spiritual bondage can be and is set up by the 
fear of One God who is supposed to meddle actively with 
all life ; ^ and the Jewish law was in itself notoriously 
an intellectual and social bondage. It is expressly 
represented as such in the Pauline epistles. If again 
we have regard to the fear of '* evil spirits," there was 
really no difference between Jew and Gentile, for the 
" superstition " of the Jew in those matters was un- 
bounded.^ Nor is there any groimd for thinking that 
the Jew had more confidence than other people in divine 
protection from the spirits of evil. 

In what respect, then, are we to suppose Jesuist mono- 
theism to have been an innovation ? The argument seems 
to require that Jesuism delivered the polytheist from 
belief in the existence either of his daimon Gods or of his 
evil spirits. But obviously it negated neither of these. 
Daimons of all sorts are constantly presupposed in Jesuist 
polemic. The '' freedom in Christ " proffered to Jews 
and Gentiles by the Pauline evangel is, in the terms of 
the case, not a freedom from the terrors of polytheism 
as such. It was certainly not regarded as a freedom, 
from ''demons," for exorcism against demons was a 
standing function in the early church for centuries ; and 
the fear of a demon or demons is implicit in the '' Lord's 
Prayer." What is proffered is primarily a freedom from 
the Jewish ceremonial law, and secondarily a freedom 
from fear in respect of the judgment-day and the future 

1 Ecce Deus, pp. 71, 75. 

2 Cp. AVhittaker, Priests^ PhiloaopherSj and Prophets, p. 45. 

3 Cp. Supernatural Beligion, ch. iv. 



THE EVOLUTION OF THE CULT 153 

life, the divine sacrifice having taken away all sin. We 
are told by eloquent missionaries in our own day ^ that 
the Christian doctrine gives a new sense of freedom and 
security to negroes, in particular to the women ; though 
we also learn on the other hand that where the two 
religions can compete" freely Islam makes the stronger 
claim in respect of its exclusion of the race bar which 
Christianity always sets up in the rear of its evangel. 
But here, if the fear of evil spirits is really cast out, it 
is by a modern doctrine of their non-existence, not found 
in the New Testament, but generated by modem science. 
Whatever preaching of monotheism, then, entered into 
early Jesuism, it gave no deliverance from belief in 
evil spirits : rather it added to their number by turning 
good daimons into bad. What is more, there enters 
into Christian polemic at a fairly early stage a use of 
the terms " God " and *' Gods " for the *' saints " which 
is on all fours with the common language of Paganism ; ^ 
and this is a much more common note than the ** high " 
monotheism of the Apology of Aristides, which has hardly 
any Christian characteristics. His monotheism is rather 
Pagan than Christian. The broad fact remains that so 
far as we can know the early Jesuist polemic from the 
gospels, the Acts, the Epistles, the Apocalypse, or the 
patristic literature, it was not a wide and successful 
assault on polytheism as such by an appeal to mono- 
theistic instinct, but just a proffer to Jews and Gentiles 
of a kind of creed common enough in the pagan world, 
its inconsistent monotheism appealing only to a minority 
of the recipients.^ The very miracle -stories which 

1 E.g. Art. in The Atlantic Monthly, Nov. 1916, p. 605. 

2 Cp. J. A. Farrer, Paganism and Christianity, R.P.A. rep. pp., 19-20 • 
Dr. J. E. Carpenter, Phases of Early Christianity, 1916, p. 57 sq. 

3 It may be argued that the really swift triumph of Islam in a later 
age goes to support Professor Smith's thesis. But the triumph of Islam 
was primarily military. And Islam too kept its cortege of " demons." 



154 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

Professor Smith interprets as allegories of monotheistic 
propaganda became part of the popular appeal as soon as 
they were made current in documents ; and they appealed 
(he will admit) as miracle-stories, not as allegories. 
Peter and Paul in their turn are represented as working 
miracles of healing. It was all finally part of the appeal 
to primary religious credulity. 

Of two positions, then, we must choose one. Either 
the miracle -stories of the gospels, and by consequence 
those of the Acts, were as such otiose inventions for an 
audience which, on the view under discussion, would 
have been much more responsive to an explicit claim of 
triumph over polytheistic beliefs, the thing they are said 
to have been most deeply concerned about, or the miracle 
stories in general were meant as miracle-stories, only 
some later symbolists seeking to impose a symbolic sense 
on the records along with the Gnostic conception that 
the Christ had spoken in allegories which the people were 
not meant to understand. This later manipulation 
undoubtedly did take place. The parable of the Rich 
One, as Professor Smith convincingly shows, is an 
allegory of Jew and Gentile — the Rich One being Israel. 
But it is not by such manipulation that cults are made 
popular, congregations collected, and revenue secured. 
And it was on these practical lines that Christianity 
was *' stablished." 

The factors which made this one Eastern cult gradually 
gain groimd, and finally hold its ground, as against the 
many rival cults, were — 

1. The system of ^clesice, modelled at once on the 
Jewish synagogue and the pagan collegia. 

2. The practice of mutual help, making the churches 
Friendly Societies — again an assimilation of common 
pagan practice. 



THE EVOLUTION OF THE CULT 155 

3. The colligation of the churches, primarily by means 
of a new sacred literature of gospels and epistles, and 
secondarily by a system of centralized government, partly 
modelled on the imperial system. 

4. The backing of the new Christian Sacred Books by 
the Jewish Sacred Books, giving an ancient Eastern 
background and basis for the faith in a world in which 
Eastern religious elements were progressively overriding the 
Western, which had in comparison no documentary basis. 

5. The giving to the whole process a relatively demo- 
cratic character, again after the model of the Jewish 
system, wherein the people had their main recognition 
as human beings with rights. Thus Christianity was at 
once a " secret society " under an autocracy, as were so 
many Hellenistic religious groups, drawing members 
as such societies always do in autocratically governed 
States,^ and a popular movement as contrasted with 
Mithraism, which always remained a mere secret society, 
whence its easy ultimate suppression by the Christianized 
government. 

6. It was the wide ramification and popular importance 
of the Christian system that at length made it worth the 
while of the emperor to cease persecuting it as a partly 
anti-imperial organization and to turn it into an imperial 
instrument by making it the religion of the State. 

To explain the process as the morally deserved success 
of a religion superior from the start, in virtue of the superi- 
ority of its nominal Founder, would be to adhere to pre- 
scientific conceptions of causation, akin to the geocentric 
assumption in astronomy. Hierology ultimately merges 
in sociology, as mythology and anthropology (in the 
English limitation of the term) merge in hierology ; and 
sociology is a study of the reaction of environments as 

^ E.g. in moderii_ China. 



156 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

well as of the action of institutions and doctrines. The 
Christian success was finally achieved by the assimilation 
of all manner of pagan modes of attraction on the side of 
creed, and the absolute ultimate subordination of the 
specialties of early Christian ethic to the business of 
political adaptation. 

And to all attempts to obscure the problem by figuring 
Christianity as a continuously beneficent and purifjdng 
force it is sufficient here to answer that it is in strict fact 
a religious variant which survived in a decaying civiliza- 
tion, a politically and socially decaying world ; that it 
lent itself to that decay ; and that it did less than nothing 
to avert it. 

Where superior hostile power efficiently fought it, it 
was suppressed just as it suppressed the organized cults of 
paganism and some (not all) of its own heretical sects. ' Its 
further survival, which does not here properly concern 
us, was but a matter of the renewed " triumph " of an 
organized over unorganized religions, and of the adoption 
of that organization by the new barbaric States as before 
by the declining Roman empire. 



Chapter V 
ORGANIZATION AND ECONOMICS 

§ 1. The Economic Side 

It is important to realize in some detail the operation 
of the economic factor in particular, and of organization 
in general, before we try to grasp sjmthetically the total 
process of documentary and doctrinal construction. The 
former is somewhat sedulously ignored in ordinary his- 
toriography, by reason of a general unwillingness even 
among rationalists to seem to connect mercenary motives 
with religious beginnings ; and of the general assumption 
among religionists that '' true " or *' early " religion 
operates in spite of, in defiance or in independence of 
and not by aid of, economic motives. No one will dispute 
that the history of the Roman Catholic Church is one of 
economic as well as doctrinal action and reaction, or that 
Protestantism from the first was in large measure an eco- 
nomic processus. But it is commonly assumed, at least 
implicitly, that "primitive" religion, religion ''in the 
making," is not at all an affair of economic motive or 
reaction. 

Those who have at all closely studied primitive religious 
life know that this is not so.^ The savage medicine-man 
is up to his lights as keenly concerned about his economic 
interest as were the priests of ancient Babylon and Egypt 
— to take instances that can hardly give modem offence. ^ 
And to say this is not to say that the " religion " involved 

1 P.O. 62-63. =* 8.H.F. i, 34, 72. 

167 



158 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

is insincere, in the case of the savage or the pagan any 
more than in that of the modern ecclesiastic or missionary. 
It is merely to say that religion has always its economic 
side, and that faith may go with economic self-seeking 
as easily as with self-sacrifice. I at least am not prepared 
to say that when the Franciscans in general passed from 
the state of volmitary poverty to that of corporate wealth 
they ceased to be sincere believers ; or that a bishop is 
necessarily less pious than a Local Preacher. 

I have seen, in Egypt, the life of a Moslem " saint " in the 
making. He fasted much, certainly never eating more than 
one meal a day, and he was visibly emaciated and feeble 
as a result of his abstinences. Over his devout neighbours 
he had an immense influence. To his religious addresses 
they listened with rapt reverence ; and when once in my 
presence he gave to a young man a religious charm to 
cure his sick sister, in the shape of a cigarette paper 
inscribed with a text from the Koran and rolled up to be 
swallowed, the youth's face was transfigured with joyous 
faith, his eyes shining as if he had seen a glorious vision. 
I have not seen more radiant faith, in or out of " Israel." 
And the saint, all the same, took unconcealed satisfaction 
in showing privately the heavy purse of gold he had 
recently collected from his faithful. To call him insincere 
would be puerile. I believe him to have been as sincere 
as Luther or Loyola. He simply happened, like so many 
Easterns and Westerns, to combine the love of pelf with 
the love of God. 

If I am told there were no such men among the early 
Jesuists or Christian propagandists, I answer that if 
there had not been the cult would not have gone very far. 
Of course the records minimize the economic side. In 
the gospels we are told that Judas carried '' the bag," 
but never anything of what he got to put in it. But in 



ORGANIZATION AND ECONOMICS 159 

the Acts, the economic factor obtrudes itself even in myth. 
A picture is there drawn (ii, 44), for the edification of 
later Christians, of the first community as having '' all 
things common " — a statement which we have no reason 
to believe true of any ancient Christian community what- 
ever — unless in the " pre -apostolic " period.^ The pic- 
ture never recurs, in the apostolic history or elsewhere. 
And the purpose of edification is imconsciously turned to 
the account of revelation. Of the faithful it is represented 
that they '' sold their possessions and goods and parted 
them to all, according as any man had need." The asser- 
tion is reiterated (iv, 34) to the extent of alleging that all 
who had houses or lands sold all, bringing the proceeds to 
the apostles for distribution '' according as any one had 
need." Among these having need would certainly be 
the '' apostles." 

Soon one of the faithful, Joseph surnamed Barnabas, *' a 
Levite, a man of Cyprus by race," is held up to honour 
for that '' having a field," he '' sold it, and brought the 
money, and laid it at the apostles' feet." Then comes the 
story of Ananias and Sapphira, who, or at least the former, 
have ever since supplied Christendom with its standing 
name for the fraudulent liar. The sin of Ananias con- 
sisted in his not having given the apostles the whole price 
of a possession he had voluntarily sold for behoof of the 
community. There could be no more striking instance of 
the power of ecclesiastical ethic to paralyse the general moral 
sense. Ananias in the legend was giving liberally, but not 
liberally enough to satisfy the apostle, who accordingly 
denounces him as sinning against the Holy Ghost, ^ and 

^ pp. Weizsacker, The Apostolic Age, Eng. trans, i, 55. It is just 
possible that among people devoutly awaiting the imminent end of 
the world, some such communions might have a brief existence. 

2 A good support to Hobbes's thesis that the sin against the Holy 
Ghost is sin against the ecclesiastical power. 



160 THE JESUS PKOBLEM 

miraculously slays him for his crime. One might have sup- 
posed that no Christian reader, remembering that the ultra- 
righteous apostle, in the previous sacrosanct record, had just 
before been represented as basely denying his Lord, could 
fail to be struck with shame and horror by the savage recital. 
But of such shame and horror I cannot recall one Christian 
avowal. And we are to remember that the devout 
recipients of that recital are assumed to have been the 
ideal Christian converts. 

Soon the twelve are made to explain (vi, 2-4) to the 
growing " multitude of the disciples " that *' it is not fit 
that we should forsake the word of God, and serve tables. 
Look ye out . . . seven men of good report, full of the 
Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint over this 
business. But we will continue stedfastly in prayer, and 
in the ministry of the word." From the date of that 
writing the apostle and his successors could claim to be 
worthy of their hire, though they had long to squabble 
for it. In the early Jesuist additions to the Teaching 
we see how the issue was raised. At first (xi) there is a 
succession of wandering apostles or '' prophets." Every 
apostle is to be received '* as the Lord ; but he shall not 
remain [except for ?] one day ; if however there be need, 
then the next [day] ; but if he remain three days, he is a 
false prophet. But when the apostle departeth, let him 
take nothing except bread enough till he lodge [again] ; 
but if he ask money, he is a false prophet." That is the 
first stage, probably quite Judaic. 

The next section (xii) still adheres broadly to the 
same view. Every entrant must work for his living. 
'' If he will not act according to this, he is a Christmonger 
(XQtordjunoQog).'' Evidently there were already Christ- 
mongers. But in chapter xiii the primitive stage 
has been passed, and there is systematic enactment of 



ORGANIZATION AND ECONOMICS 161 

economic provision for the installed prophet or teacher 
as such : — 

But every true prophet who will settle among you is 
worthy of his food. Likewise a true teacher, he also 
is worthy, like the workman, of his food. Every first- 
fruit, then, of the produce of wine-press and threshing- 
floor, of oxen and of sheep, thou shalt take and give to 
the prophets ; for they are your high-priests. But if ye 
have no prophet, give [it] to the poor. If thou makest a 
baking of bread, take the first [of it] and give according 
to the commandment. In like manner when thou openest 
a jar of wine or oil, take the first [of it] and give to the 
prophets ; and of money and clothing and every posses- 
sion, take the first, as may seem right to thee, and give 
according to the commandment. 

This economic development, too, may have been Jewish, 
as it was heathen.^ It is certainly also Christian. The 
'' prophets " are represented in the Acts (xi, 27) as at 
work already in the days of Claudius ; and they were an 
established class at the time of the writing of First Corin- 
thians (xii, 28), standing next to " apostles " and above 
" teachers." That passage is obviously post-Pauline, 
if we are to think of Paul as spending only a few years in 
his eastern propaganda. But the prophets are ostensibly 
numerous in the earliest days of the church,^ and seem to 
have subsisted alongside of '* apostles " at the outset. All 
along they must have found some subsistence : in time they 
are " established." The eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth 
sections of the Teaching, which are our best evidence of 
the progression, show a gradual triumph of the economic 
factor, registering itself in the additions. The fifteenth 
section divides in two parts, an economic and an ethical, 
the economic coming first : — 

1 SM.C. 70. 

^ Cp. Acts xiii, 1; xv, 32; Rev. xvi, 6; xviii, 20, 24. 
M 



162 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

Now elect for yourselves bishops and deacons worthy 
of the Lord, men meek and not avaricious, and upright 
and proved ; for they too render you the service of the 
prophets and the teachers. Therefore neglect them not ; 
for they are the ones who are honoured of you, together 
with the prophets and teachers. 

It was for a community thus supporting various classes 
of teachers and preachers, first poorly and primitively, 
later in an organized fashion, that the gospels were built 
up and the epistles composed. 

§ 2. Organization 

Organization, which in our days has become " a word 
to conjure with," is no new factor in human life. It is 
the secret of survival for communities and institutions; 
and the survival of Christism in its competition with other 
cults must be traced mainly to the early process of adapta- 
tion. That, however, takes place in terms of three con- 
current factors : (1) the appeal made by the cult which is 
the ground of association ; (2) the practice of the commun- 
ity as regards the relations of members ; (3) the administra- 
tion, as regards propaganda, expansion and co-ordination 
of groups. And it is through primary adaptations in 
respect of the first and second, with a constant stimulus 
from the third, that the Christian Church can be seen to 
have succeeded in the struggle for existence. That is to 
say, it is in the element in which conscious organization 
is most prominent as distinct from usage or tradition that 
the determining influence chiefly lies. 

The writer who in England was the first to take a 
comparatively scientific view of church organization 
from the ecclesiastical side, the late Dr. Edwin Hatch, 
puts in the forefront of his survey " the preliminary 
assumption that, as matter of liistorical research, the 



ORGANIZATION AND ECONOMICS 163 

facta of ecclesiastical history do not differ in kind from 
the facts of civil history." ^ For those who see in the 
religion itself a processus of natural social history, this 
assumption is a matter of course ; but the ecclesiastical 
recognition of the fact is an important step; and the 
churchman's analysis of the process is doubly serviceable 
in that he keeps the study avowedly separate from that 
of the evolution of doctrine. What he could not have 
supplied on scientific lines without falling into heresy, 
the rationalist can supply for himself. 

As our historian recognizes, the Christian movement 
in the Eastern Empire had from the outset a strong basis 
in the democratic spirit which it derived alike from Jewish 
and from Hellenistic example. In the day of universal 
autocracy, social life lay more and more in the principles 
of voluntary association ; and the first Christian churches 
were but instances of an impulse seen in operation on all 
sides. In the Jewish environment, the synagogue ; in the 
Hellenistic the ecdesia or private association, were every- 
where in evidence. Greek religious associations — thiasoi, 
eranoi, orgeones — were but types of the prevailing impetus 
to find in voluntary organized groups a substitute for the 
democratic life of the past.^ Whereas the older associa- 
tions for the promotion of special worships were limited 
to male free citizens, the new admitted foreigners, slaves, 
and women. Besides religious associations there were a 
multitude of others which had the double aspect of clubs 
and friendly societies; trade guilds existed "among 
almost every kind of workmen in almost every town in 
the empire: "3 and burial clubs, dining clubs, financial 
societies, and friendly societies met other social needs. 

^ Bampton Lectures on The Organization of the Early Christian 
Churches, 3rd, ed. 1888, p. ix. 
2 E.S. 113-116. 
^ Hatch, 26. Cp. his Hibbert Lectures, p. 291 sq. 



164 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

Almost every society, however, had its tutelary divinity, 
" in the same way as at the present day similar associations 
on the continent of Europe " — as in England before the 
Reformation — " invoke the name of a patron saint ; and 
their meetings were sometimes called by a name which 
was afterwards consecrated to Christian uses — that of a 
' sacred synod.' " ^ In many of them '' religion was, 
beyond this, the basis and bond of union. . . . Then, 
as now, many men had two religions, that which they 
professed and that which they believed ; for the former 
there were temples and State officials and public sacrifices ; 
for the latter there were associations ; and in these associa- 
tions, as is shown from extant inscriptions, divinities whom 
the State ignored had their priests, their chapels, and 
their ritual." ^ 

The Christists, then, when they began to form groups, 
were doing what a swarm of other movements did. Their 
ecclesice were called by a pagan name, as were the Jewish 
synagogues. Two things it behoved them to do if they 
were collectively to gain ground and outlive or out-top 
the rest : they must multiply in membership, and they 
must co-ordinate their groups ; and both things they did 
on lines of common action. Membership was from the 
first promoted by the simplest of all methods, systematic 
almsgiving to poor adherents ; a practice long before 
initiated by the Jewish synagogues and to this day fixed 
among them. Given the basis of free association, the 
inculcated duty of almsgiving, the eastern belief in its 
saving virtue,^ and the special Christian belief in the 
speedy end of the world, the problem of membership was 
early solved. The poorj helped one day, would themselves 

^ Id. Organization, 28. ^ Id. 28 ; Foucart, as there cited. 

3 As Hatch notes, p. 35, Clemens Romaniis (ii, 16) echoes Tobit, 
xii, 8, 9, as to the blessedness of almsgiving. Cp. his citations from 
Lactantius, Chrysostom, and the ApostoUcal Constitutions. 



ORGANIZATION AND ECONOMICS 165 

help the next, as is their human way in all ages ; and in 
an age of general poverty, the result of an autocratic 
fiscal system in the Empire as afterwards in the Turkish 
Empire which in the East took its place, such mutual 
sympathy constituted a broad social basis of corporate 
existence. 

For our ecclesiastical historian, the poverty is the main 
determinant on the side of early organization. With a 
note of profound pessimism, which alternates strangely 
with passages of professional eulogy of the Church, he 
notes that pauperism and philanthropy were going hand 
in hand already throughout the Empire before the advent 
of Christianity, rich men and municipalities proclaiming 
an " almost Christian sentiment '' on the subject. " The 
instinct of benevolence was fairly roused. And yet to 
the mass of men life was hardly worth living. It tended 
to become a despair." ^ And he claims that the Christian 
practice of almsgiving — which he knows to have been 
warmly inculcated among the Jews, as it has always been 
in Eastern countries — was one of the conservative forces 
that *' arrested decay. They have prevented the disin- 
tegration, and possibly the disintegration by a vast and 
ruinous convulsion, of the social fabric. Of those forces 
the primitive bishops and deacons were the channels 
and the ministers. . . . They bridged over the widening 
interval between class and class. They lessened to the 
individual soul the weight of that awful sadness of which, 
then as now, to the mass of men, life was the synonym and 
the sum." ^ 

The generalization as to the widening of the interval 

between classes is hardly borne out by the evidence ; and 

the pessimism of the last sentence partly defeats the 

argument, by putting the life of the early Christian period 

1 Hatch, p. 35. a Id. p. 35. 



166 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

on the same general level with that of to-day and of all 
the time between. The true summary would be that in 
that age the springs of social life were lamed by the sup- 
pression of all national existence ; that the rule of Rome 
tended to general impoverishment in respect of a vicious 
system of taxation ; and that the subject peoples, de- 
prived of the old impulses to collective energy, at once 
turned more and more to private association and became 
ready to believe in a coming *' end of the world " which in 
some way was to mean a new life. And as the Church's 
doctrine was pre-eminently one of salvation in that new 
life, it behoved it in every way to resort to propaganda 
while maintaining the eleemosynary system which gave 
it a broad basis of membership. Thus the organization 
which controlled the simple financial system must also 
have regard to the spread of doctrine. And for the means 
of spreading doctrine, again, as we have already noted, the 
cue was obviously given by Judaism, which stood out 
from all religious systems in the Roman world as a religion 
of Sacred Books. Sacred Books of its own the Jesuist 
movement must have if it was to hold its own against the 
prestige of the Jewish Bible. The production of Sacred 
Books, then, was a task which devolved upon the organ- 
izers of the Christian ecclesice throughout the Eastern 
Empire, equally with the task of co-ordination, of which, 
in fact, it was a main part. A common religious literature 
was the basis of Jewish cohesion. Only by means of a 
common religious literature could Christism cohere. 

No literature, indeed, could avert schism. Schism and 
strife are among the first notes sounded in the epistles ; 
and a religion which aimed at dogmatic teaching, as 
against the purely liturgical practice of the old pagan 
cults, was bound to multiply them. Judaism itself was 
divided into antagonistic groups of Pharisees, Sadducees, 



ORGANIZATION AND ECONOMICS 167 

and Scribes, to say nothing of the Zealots, the Essenes, 
and other diverging groups. But sects do not destroy 
a religion any more than parties destroy a State ; and the 
way of success for Christism was a way which, while it 
involved a multiplication of schism so long as the volun- 
tary basis remained, made a growing aggregate which was 
at least a unity as having a special creed, distinct from all 
competing with it. 

Thus the Christian movement was doubly a copy and 
competitor of Judaism, upon whose books it primarily 
founded. As the dispersed Jewish synagogues were co- 
ordinated from Jerusalem by the High Priest, and later 
from Tiberias by the Patriarch, by means of Twelve Apo- 
stles and possibly by a subordinate grade of seventy-two 
collectors who brought in the contributions of the faithful 
scattered among the Grentiles, so the Jesuists., beginning 
with an organization centred in Jerusalem and likewise 
aiming at the collection of funds for which almsgiving in 
Jerusalem was the appealing pretext, were bound after 
the fall of the Temple to aim at a centralization or centrali- 
zations of their own. A literature became more and more 
necessary if the new faith was to extend. That was the 
way at once to glorify the new Hero-God and to multiply 
his devotees. And it would seem to have been from the 
starting-point of the Jewish Teaching of the Twelve 
Apostles that the new departure on one line was made. 

To say who, or what class in the new organization, began 
the evolution, seems impossible in the present state of our 
knowledge. The point at which the Christist organization 
in course of time most noticeably diverges from the Jewish 
model is in the creation and aggrandisement of the episco- 
pos, the bishop, a title and a function borrowed from the 
pagan societies. These had officials called epimeletai 
(superintendents) and episcopoi, whose function it was 



168 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

to receive funds and dispense alms.^ The early Christists 
adopted the latter title, and constituted for each group a 
single official so named, who as president of the assembly 
received the offerings of donors and was personally re- 
sponsible for their distribution. This is not the place to 
trace the effects of the institution in the general develop- 
ment of the churches. It must suffice to note that while 
in their "presbyters these preserved the democratic element 
which they had derived from Judaism and which gave 
them their social foundation, their creation of a supreme 
administrator, whose interest it was always to increase 
the influence of his church by increasing his own, gave 
them a special source of strength in comparison with the 
Judaic system.^ 

For the dispersed Jews, held by a racial tie, association 
was a matter of course. Marked off by religion if not by 
aspect from Gentiles everywhere, they were a community 
within the Grentile community. For the first Jesuists, 
association was not thus a matter of course ail rornid. For 
the slaves, seeking friendship, and the poor, seeking help, 
it may have been ; but the more prosperous were for that 
very reason less spontaneously attracted. The fimdamen- 
tal tie was the so-called '' Eucharist," which at first, in 
varying forms, was probably only an annual rite : the 
agapae or love feasts were common to the multitude of 
pagan associations. Accordingly many adherents tended 
to " forsake the assembling of themselves together," ^ and 
it was plainly the function of the bishop to act upon these. 
Not only the Epistle to the Hebrews and that of Jude but 
those of Barnabas and Ignatius, and The Shepherd of 
Hermas, anxiously or sternly urge the duty of regular 
meeting. Addresses by bishops and " prophets " would be 
natural means of promoting the end. 

Who then produced the literature ? Once more, there 
1 Hatch, p. 37. = S.H.O. 87 aq. ^ Hatch, 29. 



ORGANIZATION AND ECONOMICS 169 

is no evidence. If any of the Epistles might at first 
sight seem '' genuine," they are those ascribed to James 
and Jude, essentially Judaic or Judaistic documents, 
especially the former, in which (ii, 1) the cumbrous for- 
mula "the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ of glory" ex- 
hibits a Christian interpolation. It is essentially in the 
spirit of the Teaching, a counsel of right living, calling 
for works in opposition to the new doctrine that faith 
is the one thing needful, and sounding the Ebionitic 
note (v, 1) : *' Go to now, ye rich, weep and howl for your 
miseries that are coming upon you." But save for the 
interpolation and the naming of Jesus Christ in the sen- 
tence of preamble, there is no specific Jesuist or Christist 
teaching whatever. If this document was current among 
the Jesuists, it was borrowed from a Jewish author who 
had at most one special item of belief in common with 
them, that of "the coming [or presence] of the Lord" 
(v. 7, 8) ; and here there is no certainty that " the Lord " 
meant for the writer the Christ. 

Once more, then, we turn for our first clue to the Judaic 
Teaching, which on its face exhibits the gradual accre- 
tion of Jesuist elements, beginning with an Ebionitic 
mention of the " Servant " Jesus, and proceeding step 
by step from a stage in which wandering " apostles " 
or " prophets " must subsist from hand to mouth and from 
day to day, to one in which settled prophets are supported 
by first fruits, and yet a further one in which bishops and 
deacons appear to administer while prophets and teachers 
continue to teach. And as the " prophets " constitute a 
class which in the third century has disappeared from the 
church, as if its work were done ; and as they bear the 
name given to the chief producers of the sacred literature 
of Judaism, it would seem to be the natural surmise that 
they were the primary producers of special literature for 
the early Christian churches. 



Chapter VI 
EARLY BOOK-MAKING 

§1. The '' DidacW 

Evidently the Teaching (DidachS) of the Twelve 
Apostles was humbly used by some of the early Jesuists 
as an authoritative Jewish manual which supplied them 
with their rule of conduct, they only later supplying 
(c. ix) their special rite of the '' Eucharist " of wine and 
broken ^ bread, and vaguely mentioning " the life and 
knowledge which thou hast made known to us by Jesus 
thy Servant." There is no mention of crucifixion, no 
naming of Jesus as Messiah. We are confronted with a 
primary Judaic Jesuism which is not that of the gospels, 
nor that of the Paulines, nor that of the Acts, though it 
agrees with the latter in calling Jesus the Servant of the 
Lord. It is even of older type than Ebionism ; for the 
Ebionites carried their cult of poverty and asceticism to 
the point of using water instead of wine in the Eucharist ; ^ 
whereas the DidachS specififes wine, the older practice. 
The cup of the Eucharist is " the holy wine of David thy 
servant, which thou hast made known to us through 
Jesus thy servant " ; and the thanks which follow (c. 10) 
are to the holy Father " for thy holy name, which thou 
hast caused to dwell in our hearts, and for the knowledge 
and faith and immortality which thou hast made known 
to us through Jesus thy servant." 

1 " The Broken " is used as a noun : bread is only understood. 
Evidently the breaking was vitally symbolic, as is explained in the 
context. Cp. Luke xxiv, 30, 35. 

^ Ireneeus, Against Heresies^ v, 3. 

170 



EARLY BOOK-MAKING 171 

It is quite clear that in this form of Jesuism, visibly 
early as compared with that set forth in the gospels and 
the Acts, we have something different from that in its 
derivation. The Eucharist, here so called ostensibly 
for the first time, is only inferribly derived from a sacra- 
ment of the body and blood of the sacrificed Jesus. 
Eucharistia means thanksgiving or thank-offering, and 
this ritual-meal is intelligibly so named. Applied, as by 
Justin Martyr and later Fathers, to the sacrificial sacra- 
ment of the gospels and the epistles, the name is a false 
description : yet the false description becomes canonical. 
The licit inference appears to be that the cult of a Jesus 
who outside of Judaism was a Sacrificed Saviour-God had 
here, under Judaic control, been presented as that of a 
Hero-Jesus, connected like Dionysos with the gift of the 
vine, and associated with a ritual meal of thanksgiving 
to Yahweh, whose ** servant " he is. 

Taking the Didache as a stage in the Christian evolution, 
we further infer that the conception and name of a " Eu- 
charist " was thence imposed on another and older species of 
ritual-meal, in which the Jesus is slain as a sacrifice and 
commemorated in a sacrificial sacrament. The more 
Judaic form of the cult absorbs an older and non-Judaic 
form, forced to the front by a death-story which gives 
to its sacrament a higher virtue for the devotee. It is 
a case of competition of cult forms for survival, the weaker 
being superseded. And as the sacrament, so the Jesus, 
is developed on other lines. He of the Didache is neither 
Son of God nor Saviour, as he is not the Messiah, though he 
has somehow conveyed '* knowledge and faith and immor- 
tality." What the Didache does is to begin the process of 
a doctrinal and ethical teaching which coalesces with that 
of evolving the God. 

In the eighth section, the " Lord's Prayer " is intro- 



172 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

duced with the formula '' Nor pray ye like the hypo- 
crites, but as the Lord commanded in his gospel." Now 
" the Lord " has in every previous mention clearly 
meant, not Jesus, who is mentioned solely in the '' ser- 
vant " passages, but *' God," '" the Father," the Jewish 
deity. Either, then, *' the Lord ... in his gospel " 
refers to some ''gospel" of Yahweh or, as is highly 
probable, the whole clause is a late interpolation. This is 
the more likely because the seventh section, prescribing 
baptism in the name of '' the Father, the Son, and the 
Holy Spirit," is flagrantly interpolated. That being so, 
the provision at the end of c. 9, that no one shall partake 
of the Eucharist except those baptized in the name of 
the Lord, must be held to be also a late interpolation. 
Thus the document has been manipulated to some 
extent even in its early portions. The only other men- 
tions of the gospel are in chapters 11 and 15, which 
follow after the '' Amen " of the tenth, and represent 
the progressive provisions for the apostles and prophets 
of the growing church. The introduction of Jesuism in 
chapters 9 and 10 is pre -gospel. 

This will be disputed only by those who, like the first 
American and German editors, cannot see that the first 
five or six sections are purely Judaic. After Dr. Charles 
Taylor and other English editors did so, coinciding with 
an early suggestion of M. Massebieau,^ the rest have 
mostly come into line ; and even the American editors 
at the outset saw that the Epistle of Barnabas, which 
has so much of the matter of the Teaching, is the later 
and not the earlier document. Thus the Lord's Prayer 
takes its place as originally a Jewish and not a Christian 
document ; and the passages in the early chapters which 

^ See Introd. to Messrs. Hitchcock and Brown's (American) ed., 1886, 
p. Ixxviii. 



EARLY BOOK-MAKING 173 

coincide with the Sermon on the Mount are equally 
Jewish.^ 

We can now understand the tradition that Matthew, 
of which the present opening chapters are so plainly 
late, was the first of the gospels, and was primarily a 
collection of logia. But the logia were in the terms of 
the case not logia lesou at all, being but a compilation 
of Jewish dicta on the lines of the Teaching, and, as 
regards the form of beatitude, probably an imitation of 
other Jewish literature as exampled in the '* Slavonic 
Enoch." 2 

It must be repeated, however, that the ninth and 
tenth sections of the Teaching are not to be taken as 
giving us "the" original Jesus of the Jesuist move- 
ment. We have posited, with Professor Smith, a '' mul- 
tifocal " movement; and concerning the Jesus here given 
we can only say that the document tells of the primary 
connection of the Jesus-Name with a non-sacrificial 
Eucharist. Whether the name stood historically for 
Joshua or for the Jesus of Zechariah, or for yet another, 
it is impossible to pronounce. What is clear is that it 
does not point to the Jesus of the gospels. When the 
Jesus-sections of the Teaching were penned, the gospels 
were yet to come ; and the crucified Saviour-God of Paul 
was not preached, though his myth was certainly current 
somewhere. 

§ 2. The Apocalypse 

The " Revelation of John the Theologian " is also, in 
respect of much of its matter, pre-gospel, and even in 
its later elements independent of the gospels. It is 
noteworthy that the latest professional criticism has 

^ 1 Above, p. 132. 2 qj^ 422. 



174 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

after infinite fumbling come (without acknowledging 
him) to the view of Dupuis that the episode of the 
woman and the child and the dragon belong to sun- 
myth ; ^ and the exegetes would probably save them- 
selves a good deal of further guessing by contemplating 
Dupuis's solution that the special details are simply 
derived from an ancient planisphere or fuller zodiac, in 
which the woman and the dragon and the hydra are 
prominent figures.^ It is in any case particularly im- 
portant to realize that this palpably mythical conception 
of a Jesus Christ, figured as " the Lamb," evidently 
with a zodiacal reference, is found in one of the earliest 
documents of the cult, outside of the gospels. 

In these, as we have seen, the original God -Man is 
progressively humanized from the hieratic figure of the 
op^ni^g chapters of Mark, through Matthew and Luke, 
till in the fourth, which declares him Logos and pre- 
mundane, he has close personal friends and (ostensibly) 
weeps for the death of one. But not even the thought- 
less criticism which professes to find a recognizable 
human figure in Mark can pretend to find one in Revela- 
tion. There, admittedly on Jewish bases, there is limned 
an imearthly figure, who has been "pierced," we are 
not told where ; who has the keys of death and Hades, 
and carries on his right hand seven stars ; and has eyes 
like a flame of fire and feet like unto burnished brass. 
With this pre-Christian apparatus, which on the astro- 
logical side goes back to Persia and Babylon, there is 
carried on a fierce polemic against certain of the '' seven 



^ Bousset in Encyc. Bib. i, 209, following Gunkel, Schopfung und 
Chaoa. 

2 Cp. R. Brown, Jr., Primitive Constellations , 1899, i, 64-65, 104, 
119, etc.; G. Schiaparelli, Astronomy in the O, T., 1905, p. 72; Hon. 
Emmeline M. Plunket, Ancient Calendars and Constellations , 1903, 
117-123, and maps; and Hippolytus, Rej. of all Heresies, v, 47-49. 



EARLY BOOK-MAKING 175 

churches/' the sect of the Nicolaitans, and " them which 
say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of 
Satan." The churches named are not those of the Acts 
and the Pauline epistles : Jerusalem and Antioch are not 
named, though Ephesus is. Jewish and pre -Jewish myth 
and doctrine overlay the Jesuist, which at many points 
is visibly a mere verbal interpolation ; so that the 
question arises whether even the seven churches are 
primarily Christian or Jewish. 

If " Babylon " stands for Rome, it is but an adapta- 
tion of an older polemic ; for Babylon is declared to 
have actually fallen, before it is announced that she 
" shall be cast down." ^ The eleventh chapter dilates 
on the Jewish temple ; again and again we listen to a 
purely Jewish declamation over Jewish woes ; the four- 
and-twenty elders and the Lamb " as though it had been 
slain, having seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the 
seven Spirits of God," are of Babylonian and Persian 
derivation; and the "second death" is Egyptian. In 
the new Jerusalem, " coming down out of heaven," 
twelve angels are at the gates, which bear the names of 
the twelve tribes ; and the " twelve apostles of the 
Lamb" are represented only by "twelve basement 
courses " of the wall. 

How much such a document stood for in the early 
building-up of the cult it is impossible to gather from 
the records, which indicate that it was long regarded 
askance by the gospel -reading and epistle -reading 
churches. But it gives a definite proof that the cult 
had roots wholly unlike those indicated in the " catholic " 
tradition, arid wholly incompatible with the beginnings 
set out in the gospels and the Acts. 

^ Rev. xviii, 2, 21. 



176 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

§ 3. Epistles 

The outstanding problem in regard to the Epistles in 
the mass is that while criticism is more and more press- 
ing them out of the '' apostolic " period into the second 
century, they show practically no knowledge of the 
gospels. As little do they show any trace of the '' per- 
sonality " of the Founder, which is posited by the bio- 
graphical school as the ground for the resurrection myth. 
Of Jesus as a remarkable personality-^ there is no glimpse 
in the whole literature ; and it must be a relief for the 
defenders of his historicity to be invited to pronounce 
both James and Jude pseudepigraphic documents, the 
former written with direct polemic reference to the 
Pauline doctrine of faith. ^ The puzzle is to conceive 
how, on that view, the document can still remain so 
destitute of Jesuist colouring. 

Save for the two namings of Jesus (i, 1 ; ii, 1) at the 
beginnings of chapters, there is no trace of Jesuine 
doctrine; the epistle is addressed to ''the twelve tribes 
of the Dispersion " ; and there is a reference (ii, 2) to 
" your syngaogue," not to *' your ecclesia." When 
therefore we note the extremely suspicious character of 
the second naming of Jesus, '' our Lord Jesus Christ of 
glory," we are doubly entitled to diagnose interpolation; 
and the first naming at once comes under suspicion. 
It is not surprising therefore that such a critic as Spitta 
pronounces the epistle a Jewish document. ^ Even if it 
were true, then, that the eschatological matter has a 
gospel colouring, that would carry us no further than a 
surmise that the Jewish document had been slightly 
developed for Jesuine purposes. And this may be the 

^ Encyc. Bib. art. James. 

2 A view independently put before his (1896) by the present writer. 



EARLY BOOK-MAKING 177 

solution as to the anti-Pauline element. An originally 
Jewish document may have been used by a Judseo -Christian 
to carry an attack on a doctrine of Grentilizing Christism. 
The residual fact is that a section of the Jesuist movement 
in the second century was satisfied with a quasi -apostolic 
document which has no hint of the teaching of a his- 
torical Jesus. Naturally it soon passed into " catholic " 
disfavour. 

But the remaining epistles differ historically from this 
only in respect of their asseveration of a crucified Christ, 
by faith in whom men are saved. They too are devoid 
of biographical data. Neither parable nor miracle, doc- 
trine nor deed, family history nor birthplace, of the 
Founder is ever mentioned in the epistolary literature, 
any more than in the Apocalypse or the Didache. And 
yet the mass of the epistles are being, as aforesaid, more 
and more pressed upon by criticism as pseudepigraphic. 
Second Peter was always in dispute ; and First Peter 
has few save traditionalist supporters. If First John is 
to be bracketed with the fourth gospel, it is dismissed 
with that as outside the synoptic tradition : and the 
second and third epistles are simply dropped as spurious. 
Hebrews is anonymous, though our Revisers saw fit to 
retain its false title ; and that epistle too is utterly 
devoid of testimony to a historical Jesus. It teUs simply 
of a human sacrifice, in which the victim "suffered 
without the gate," in accordance with the regular sacri- 
ficial practice. Late or early, then, the epistles give no 
support to the gospels — or, at least, to the biographical 
theory founded on these. 

It is thus quite unnecessary to argue here the interest- 
ing question of the genmneness of any of the Pauline 
epistles. Long ago, nine were given up by the Tiibingen 
school, and four only claimed to be genuine. Remem- 



178 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

bering the datum of Eusebius that Paul personally 
penned '* only a few very short " epistles, though specially 
gifted in the matter of style, we are not unprepared to 
find even these called in question. And latterly the 
Dutch school whose work culminated in Van Manen has 
built up an impressive case ^ for the rejection of the whole 
mass, the supreme *'four" included; and the defence 
so far made by the traditionalists is the reverse of im- 
pressive.^ The ablest counter-criticism comes from other 
men of the left wing, as Schmiedel, who makes havoc of 
the Acts. 

From the point of view of the historical as distin- 
guished from the documentary critic, all that need here 
be said on the issue is that the negative case may have 
to be restated if there is faced the hypothesis that the 
Jesuine movement was of comparatively old standing, 
and of some degree of development, when Paul came on 
the scene. Van Manen assumes the substantial historicity 
not only of Jesus but of the Jesuine movement as set 
forth in the Gospels ; and whereas he found it hard to 
make that assumption on the view that any of the Paulines 
was genuine, he had no difi&culty about it when he rele- 
gated them all to the second century. It should be 
asked, then, whether the view that the Jesus-cult is 
" pre-Christian " might not re-open the case for some 
of the Paulines. 

Having put that caveat, the historical critic has 
simply to consider the question of the historicity of 

1 Admirably summarized by Mr. T. Whittaker in his Origins of 
Christianity. Cp. Van Manen's art. Paul in Encyc. Bib. 

2 Dr. F. C. Conybeare has indicated the view that, Van Manen's 
chair having been offered to him after Van Manen's death, he is in a 
position to dispose of Van Manen's case by expressing his contempt 
for it. And Dr. Conybeare is prepared to accept as genuine the whole 
of the epistles, a position rejected by all the professional critics except 
the extreme traditionalists. 



EARLY BOOK-MAKING 179 

Jesus in relation to the Paulines from both points of 
view, asking what evidence they can be supposed to 
yield either on the view of the genuineness of some or 
on that of the spuriousness of all. And the outcome is 
that on neither view do they tell of a historical Jesus. 
If " the four " are genuine, Paul, declared to be so near 
the influence of the '' personality " of Jesus, not only 
shows no trace of impression from it but expressly puts 
aside the question. In the Epistle to the Galatians he 
declares that he had not learned his gospel from the other 
apostles but received it by special revelation, actually 
avoiding intercourse with the other apostles apart from 
Peter — a proposition certainly savouring strongly of 
post-Pauline dialectic, as does the text (2 Cor. v, 16): 
" Even though we have known Christ after the flegh, 
yet now we know [him so] no more." Instead then of 
the Paulines, on the view of their genuineness, confirm- 
ing the conception of a remarkable personality which 
had profoundly impressed those who came in contact 
with it, they radically and unmanageably conflict with 
that conception. So far Van Manen is justified. 

If on the other hand we accept the strongly supported 
thesis that they are aU pseudepigraphic, the historicity 
of the gospels is in no way accredited. We reach the 
view that early in the second century, when such early 
gospels as the Matthew and Mark of Papias may be 
supposed to have been current, even the devotees who 
wrote in Paul's name took no interest in the human 
personality of Jesus, but were concerned simply about 
the religious significance of his death. The passages in 
First Corinthians (xi, 23 sq.\ xv, 3 sq.) which deal with 
the Supper and the Resurrection expressly repudiate 
knowledge of the gospels; the first claiming to have 
'' received of the Lord " the facts retailed, and the 



180 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

second, after a similar formula, proffering data not given 
in any gospel. And both passages have been demon- 
strably interpolated, even if we do not pronounce them, 
as we are entitled to do, interpolations as wholes. The 
first breaks the continuity of an exhortation as to the 
proper way of eating the Lord's Supper; the second is 
introduced (xv, 1) with a strange profession to *' make 
known unto you the gospel which I preached unto you." 
And even the second passage, with its mention of " the 
twelve," excludes knowledge of the story of Judas; 
while the first, at the point at which our revisers trans- 
late " was betrayed," reaUy says only '' delivered up " 
{TcagedidoTo), which may or may not imply betrayal. 

How Van Manen could find in all this any support for 
the gospel story in general he never explained; and 
obviously no support is given. Historically considered, 
the epistles undermine the biographical theory whether 
we reckon them early or late, genuine or pseudepigraphic. 
If early, they discredit completely the notion of a his- 
torical Jesus of impressive personality. If as late as 
Van Manen makes them (120-140) they tell not only of 
indifference to the personality of Jesus but of ignorance 
of the gospel story as we have it, strongly suggesting that 
the complete story of the tragedy was yet unknown, and 
that only in still later interpolations, made before the 
Judas story was current, was it to be indicated. 

What is more, the Paulines, like other Epistles, tell of 
vital unbelief as to the reality of Jesus. Paul is made 
to protest that '' some among you say that there is no 
resurrection of the dead " (1 Cor. xv, 12). These Jesuists, 
then, held at most only a faith in future salvation by 
virtue of the sacrament. So in First John it is implied 
(iv, 2-3) that some of the adherents confess not that 
Jesus is come in the flesh, which is declared to be the 



EARLY BOOK-MAKING 181 

doctrine of ''the antichrist," a type of which ''many" 
(ii, 18) have arisen. 

We are critically forced, then, to the conclusion that 
for a century after the alleged death of the Founder the 
Jesuist movement had either no literature whatever save 
one of primarily Jewish documents such as the Didache 
or problematic short Pauline epistles which have either 
disappeared or been absorbed in much longer documents 
of later date, which in turn still tell of no Jesuine Sacred 
Books. All alike exclude the conception of a historical 
Jesus of remarkable personality. In the doctrinal 
quarrels which have already driven deep furrows in the 
faith, the personality of Jesus counts for nothing. In 
that connection no one cites any teaching of the Master. 
He is simply an abstract sacrifice; and even in that 
aspect he is not clearly present in the Jewish-Christian 
Didache, Of his earthly parentage, domicile, or career, 
there is not a word. Everything goes to confirm our 
hypothesis that the cult is of ancient origin, rooted in a 
sacrament which evolved out of a rite of human sacrifice 
and connected with non-Jewish as well as Jewish myths 
which from the first tended to the deification of the 
Slain One. 

It remains, then, to consider the gospels anew as com- 
pilations made in the second century of (1) previously 
current Jewish lore, written and unwritten ; (2) doctrinal 
elements indicated by the sectarian disputes already 
active ; (3) pseudo -historic elements justifying Messianic 
doctrine and practice ; and (4) the Mystery-Drama, now 
developed under Gentile hands. Upon aU this followed 
(5) the new theology and new pseudo -biography of the 
fourth gospel, which was but another stage in the 
general process of myth-making. 



Chapter VII 
GOSPEL-MAKING 

§ 1. Tradition 

According to the tradition preserved through Papias 
(d. circa 165), from *' John the presbyter/' who is not 
pretended to have been John the Apostle, the first 
gospels were those of Mark, the '' interpreter " of Peter, 
who set down in no chronological order the " sayings 
and doings " of the Lord as he had gathered them from 
Peter ; and of Matthew, who wrote the logia or sayings 
" in the Hebrew dialect " ^ — presumably Aramaic. This, 
the earliest written tradition concerning the matter 
embodied in the gospels, is preserved to us from Papias' 
lost "Exposition of the Dominical ^ Oracles" {Aoyicov 
xvQtaKcov) by Eusebius. For his own part, Papias pro- 
fessed to set more store by what he received from 
Aristion and the Presbyter John and other disciples 
of the Lord than by anything " out of books." And it 
chances that he gave out as a Dominical Oracle ^ thus 
certificated a crude picture of millennial marvels which 
is actually taken from either the Apocalypse of Baruch, 
which here imitated the Book of Enoch, or from an 
older source.* Concerning this utterance of the Lord, 
further, Papias narrated a conversation between Jesus 

1 Eusebius, Hist. Eccles. iii, 39, end. 

2 This term, it will be noted, tells of an abstract or generalized and 
jaot of a " personal " tradition. 

= Irenaeus, Against Heresies, v, 33. 
'* Canon Charles, note on Apoc. Baruch, xxix, 6. 

182 



GOSPEL-MAKING 183 



and Judas, in which the latter figures as a freethinker, 
expressing disbelief in the prediction. 

Eusebius, scandalized by such testimony, pronounced 
Papias a man of small understanding. But he is the 
first Christian authority as to the history of the gospels ; 
and the very fact that he set less store by them than by 
oral tradition is evidence that he had no reason for 
thinking them more authoritative than the matter that 
reached him by word of mouth. It may be that he knew 
only Greek, and that he could not read for himself the 
Aramaic logia, concerning which he says that " every one 
interpreted them for himself as he was able." From the 
logia and the proto-Mark to the first two synoptics the 
evolution can only be guessed. No one now claims that 
we possess the original documents even in translation. 
Matthew as it stands is admittedly not a translation ; 
and Dr. Conybeare, who idly alleges that I pay no heed 
to the order of priority of the gospels, and insists chroni- 
cally on the general priority of Mark, avows that '* Mark, 
the main source of the first and third evangelists, is him- 
self no original writer, but a compiler, who pieces together 
and edits earlier documents in which his predecessors had 
written down popular traditions of the miracles and 
passion of Jesus." ^ And he predicates in one part 
''four stages of documentary development." ^ How in 
this state of things the existing Mark can be proved to 
be the main source of Matthew and Luke is not and 
cannot be explained. Mark too is admittedly not a 
translation from Aramaic ; but some of his sources may 
have been. ' 

Concerning Matthew, again, the tradition runs that 
according to Papias he told a story of a woman accused 
of many sins before the Lord ; and Eusebius adds, 
^ Myth, Magic, and Morals, 2nd ed. p. 68. 2 j^ p 53^ 



184 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

apparently on his own part, that this is contained in 
the Gospel according to the Hebrews. If this was the 
story (now bracketed in R.V.) found only in late copies 
of the fourth gospel, the " Hebrew '' gospel contained 
matter notably special to itself ; and such is the con- 
clusion established by a collation of all the 33 fragments 
preserved. '' We arrive ... at a Gospel (a) in great 
part independent of the extant text of our gospels, and 
(6) showing no signs of relationship to Mark or John, 
but (c) bearing a very marked affinity to Matthew, and 
(d) a less constant but still obvious affinity to Luke." ^ 
The hypothesis of Nicholson is " that Matthew wrote at 
different times the canonical gospel and the gospel accord- 
ing to the Hebrews, or at least that large part of the 
latter which runs parallel to the former." ^ 

On this view, " Matthew " in one of his versions 
deliberately omitted (1) the remarkable story of the 
woman taken in adultery ; (2) the remarkable story that 
'' the mother of the Lord and his brethren " proposed 
to him that they should all go and be baptized by John, 
whereupon he asked "Wherein have I sinned?" but 
added : " except perchance this very thing that I have 
said in ignorance," and went accordingly; (3) the state- 
ment that at baptism Jesus saw the dove " entering into 
him"; (4) the further item that ''the entire fountain 
of the Holy Spirit descended and rested upon him," 
addressing him as " My son " ; and (5) Jesus' use of the 
phrase, ''My mother, the Holy Spirit." Such a hypo- 
thesis, if accepted, deprives of all meaning the notion of 
an "author" of a document. The only fair inference 
is that a Greek translation of the Hebrew gospel was one 
of the sources of the present Matthew, and that either 

^ E. B. Nicholson, The Gospel according to the Hebrews, 1879, p. 101. 
2 Id. p. 104t 



GOSPEL-MAKING 185 



(a) many of its details have been rejected, or (6) that 
many of the preserved fragments were additions to the 
original. 

On either view, we must pronounce that the Hebrew 
gospel, as exhibited in the fragments, has none of the 
marks of a real biographical record. The items of 
narrative are wholly supematuralist ; the items of teach- 
ing belong to the more advanced Jewish ethic which we 
find progressively developed from Matthew to Luke. 
Once more, the critical inference is either (a) that the 
ethically-minded among the Jesuist " prophets " set out 
by putting approved doctrines in the mouth of the 
legendary Saviour-God, whereafter doctrinary episodes 
were invented for cult purposes, or (b) that the miraculous 
life was first pieced out in terms of Old Testament pro- 
phecies held for Messianic. Having regard to the ethical 
nullity of the primary evangel posited in the synoptics, 
the presumption is wholly against any primary manu- 
facture of new logia. If we take the Sermon on the 
Mount as typical, the matter is all pre-Christian.^ If 
we pronounce the method of the first canonical gospel to 
be secondary in relation to that of Mark, the ethical 
element enters only after the cult has gone a long way, 
and is then Jewish matter subsumed, as in the Didache. 

On bases so laid, there accrue a multitude of expletions, 
stones added to the cairn, as : episodes favouring this 
or that view of the proper Messianic heredity; of the 
Messiah's ascetic or non-ascetic character; of his attitude 
for or against Samaritans ; of his thaumaturgic prin- 
ciples ; of the universality or selectness of the salvation 
he brings ; of his attitude towards the Roman power, 
towards divorce, towards the Scribes and Pharisees, and 
so on. Up to the point of the establishment of some- 

1 CM. 403 sq. 



186 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

thing like a Canon, the longer the cult lasted, the greater 
would be the variety of the teaching. Different views 
of the descent and character of the Messiah, put forward 
by Davidists and non-Davidists, Nazarites and non- 
NazariteSj Jews and Samaritans, would all tend to find 
currency, and all would tend to find a place in the scroll 
of some group, whence they could ill be ousted by any 
'' Catholic " movement. Still later, definitely anti- Jewish 
matter is grafted piecemeal by Gentile adherents : the 
'' good Samaritan " is an impeachment of Jewish charac- 
ter; and the legendary apostles are progressively be- 
littled — ^notably so in the mystery play which finally 
supersedes the earlier accounts of the Tragedy. 

That such a general process actually took place is of 
necessity admitted by the biographical school, their 
problem consisting in delimiting the amount of tradition 
which they can plausibly claim as genuine. From the 
point of that delimitation they posit a process of doc- 
trinal and other myth-making. The decision now claimed 
is that there is no point of scientific delimitation, and 
that the process which they carry forward from an 
arbitrarily fixed point must logically be carried backwards. 

No more general or more far-reaching result can be 
reached by a mere collation and analysis of the synoptics 
on purely documentary lines — a process which has gone 
on for a century without even a documentary decision. 
The conclusion forced upon Schmiedel, even on the 
assumption of the historicity of Jesus, that none of the 
current theories of gospel-composition can meet the 
problem,^ becomes part of the case of the myth-theory. 
The assumption that a " source," once established, gives 
a historic foundation, is no more tenable in this than in 
any other case of a challenged myth ; and the current 
1 Art. Gospels in Encyc. Bib. cols. 1868, 1872. 



GOSPEL-MAKING 187 



methods of establishing sources, rooted as they are in 
the assumption of historicity, are often quite arbitrary 
even when they profess to follow documentary tests. 
Nevertheless, the normal pressure of criticism is seen 
driving champions of the priority of Mark to the con- 
fession that Mark not only contains late additions but 
is in itself a secondary or tertiary document, pointing to 
an earlier Mark, an Ur-Markus. The primary flaw in 
the process is the habit of looking to an author rather 
than at a compilation; and this habit roots in the 
assumption of historicity. At no point can we be sure 
whether we are reading a transcript of oral lore or a 
redaction. 

Granting that Mark has pervading peculiarities of 
diction which suggest one hand, we are still not entitled 
to say that such peculiarities would not be adopted by a 
redactor. Again, as against the relative terseness or 
simplicity of a number of passages which suggest an 
earlier form, we have many which by their relative 
diffuseness admittedly suggest deliberate elaboration.^ 
And if we are to ask ourselves what was liJcely to -be the 
method of an early evangelist, how shall we reconcile 
the '' in the stem, asleep on the cushion " (iv, 38) with 
the absolute traditionalism and supematuralism of the 
first chapter? John, "clothed with camel's hair," is 
simply a duplicate of Elijah.^ Is one realistic detail to 
pass for personal knowledge when the other is sheer 
typology ? In the opening chapter, Jesus comes as the 
promised " Lord," is prophesied of by John as the 
Coming One, is haUed by God from heaven as his be- 
loved son, sees the heavens rent asunder and the Spirit 
descending as a dove, fasts forty days in the wilderness, 

1 Art. Gospels in Eiicyc. Bib. cols. 1767, 1846. 

2 2 Kings i, 8 : R.V. marg. 



188 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

is ministered to by angels, calls on men to follow him at 
his first word, proceeds to give marvellous teaching of 
which not a word is preserved, is hailed by a demoniac 
as the Holy One of God, expels a devil, cures a fever 
instantaneously, heals a multitude, casts out many 
devils, who know him, goes through the synagogues of 
Galilee, casting out devils and preaching, cures a leper 
instantaneously, commands secrecy, is disobeyed, and is 
then flocked-to by more multitudes. And we are invited 
to believe that we are reading the biography of a real 
man, who always speaks to Jews as one Jew to another, 
and is '* not too bright and good for human nature's 
daily food." And the confident champion of this bio- 
graphical theory assures us that we '' need not doubt " 
that Jesus was a '' successful exorcist." 

§ 2. SchmiedeVs Tests 

Either the first chapter of Mark is primordial gospel - 
writing or it is not. If it is, the biographical theory is as 
idle as those ridiculed by Socrates in the Ph^drtjs. If 
it is not, upon what does the biographical theory found ? 
The details of " mending their nets " and " in the boat 
with the hired servants " ? Professor Schmiedel, con- 
scious of the unreality of such narrative, falls back upon 
nine selected texts, seven of them in Mark, which he 
claims as " pillars " of a real biography of Jesus, ^ on the 
score that they present him as (a) flouted in his preten- 
sions or (6) himself disclaiming deity, or (c) declining to 
work wonders, or {d) apparently denying a miracle story, 
or (e) crying out to God on the cross that he is forsaken. 
Now, of all such texts, only h and e types can have any 

^ This thesis is put by the Professor in art. Gospels in Encyc. Bib. 
col. 1881; also, at greater length, in his lecture, Jesus in Modern 
Criticism, and his work on The Johannine Writings (Eng. trans. ; 
Black, 1907, 1908). 



GOSPEL-MAKING 189 



such evidential force as Schmiedel ascribes to them.^ 
Type a counts for nothing : not only the sufEering 
Saviour-Gods but Apollo and Ares, to say nothing of 
Hephaistos, Here, and Aphrodite, are flouted in the 
pagan literature which treats them as Gods. If to 
quote "he is beside himself " is to prove historicity, 
why not quote the taunts to Jesus in the fourth gospel, 
nay, the crucifixion itself ? 

In his able and interesting work on The Johannine 
Writings, Schmiedel carefully developes the thesis that 
the Johannine Jesus is an invented figure, conceived 
from the first as supernatural ; and he puts among other 
things the notable proposition that when Jesus weeps 
it is implied by the evangelist that he does so not out 
of human sympathy, but " simply because they [the 
kinsfolk of Lazarus] did not believe in his power to 
work miracles." ^ Assuming for the argument's sake 
that this is a true interpretation, we are driven to 
ask how the thesis consists with that of the " pillar 
texts." The Johannine writer starts with a super- 
natural Jesus, yet not only represents his attached 
personal friends as not believing in his power to work 
miracles but describes Jesus as weeping because of their 
unbelief. Nothing in Mark is for modems more incon- 
gruous with a supematuralist view of Jesus, yet Schmiedel 
sees no difficulty in believing that the Johannine writer 
could deliberately frame the incongruity. Why then 
should even an original author of Mark be held to regard 
Jesus as mortal because in Mark he is flouted, or declines 
to work wonders, or is unable to do so at Nazareth ? 

1 I have dealt with the nine texts seriatim in CM. 441 aq., and 
F.Q. 229 sq. They are more fully and very ably discussed by Prof. 
Smith {Ecc& Deus, Part III), with most though not with all of whose 
criticism I am in agreement. 

2 Eng. trans, p. 31. 



190 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

If one writer can represent the Eternal Logos as weeping 
from chagrin, why should not the other think him God 
even when he cries out that God has forsaken him ? And 
if, finally, the cry is held to cite Psalm xxii, 1, and to 
imply the triumphant conclusion of that psalm, what 
value has the passage for the critic's purpose ? 

An unbiassed criticism will of course recognize that 
the " Jesus wept " may be an interpolation, for it is 
admitted that the Greek words rendered '' groaned in 
the spirit " may mean '' was moved with indignation in 
the spirit " ; and, yet again, Martha is represented 
(xi, 22) as avowing the belief that '' even now " Jesus 
can raise Lazarus by the power of God. Nay, the whole 
story may be an addition, not from the pen of the writer 
who makes Jesus God. But equally the incongruities 
in Mark may come of interpolation. A fair inference 
from the characteristics of that document is that parts 
of it, notably the first dozen paragraphs, represent a 
condensation of previously current matter, while others 
are as plainly expansive ; and even if these diversely 
motived sections be from the same hand, interpolations 
might be made in either. 

In reply to my argument ^ that texts in which Jesus 
figures as a natural man would at most represent only 
Ebionitic views, Professor Schmiedel puts the perplexing 
challenge, concerning the Ebionites ; — '' Were they not 
also worshippers of Jesus as well ? Were they really 
men of such wickedness that they sought to bring the 
true humanity of Jesus into acceptance by falsifying the 
Gospels ? And if they were, was it in their power to 
effect this falsification with so great success ? " ^ I 
cannot think that Dr. Schmiedel, who is invariably 

1 P.O. 234. 

^ Pref. to Eng. trans, of Arno Neumann*s Jesus, 1906, p. xx. 



GOSPEL-MAKING 191 

candid, has thought out the positions here taken up. 
The point that the Ebionites were " worshippers " of 
Jesus is surely fatal to his own thesis. " Worshippers " 
could in their case go on worshipping while maintaining 
that the worshipped one was a mortal. Then to assert 
that he avowed himself a mortal was not inconsistent with 
"worship." But the challenge obscures the issue; and 
it is still more obscured when the Professor goes on to 
ask : " Had they [the Ebionites] no predecessors in this 
view of his person ? Must we not suppose that pre- 
cisely the earliest Christians, the actual companions of 
Jesus — supposing Him really to have lived — were their 
predecessors? " This argument, the Professor must see, 
has small bearing on my position. 

Three questions are involved, from the mythological 
point of view : first, whether actual believers in an 
alleged divinity could represent him as flouted, humiliated, 
or temporarily powerless ; second, whether the Ebionitic 
view of Jesus can be accounted for otherwise than as the 
persistence of a pro to -Christian view, arising among the 
immediate adherents of a man Jesus ; third, whether in 
the second century Jesuists of Ebionitic views could invent, 
and insert in the gospels, sayings of or concerning Jesus 
which were meant to countervail the belief in his divinity. 

On the first head, the answer is, as aforesaid, that 
throughout aU ancient religion we find derogatory views 
of deity constantly entertained, at different stages of 
culture, without any clear consciousness of incongruity. 
Yahweh in the Old Testament " repents " that he made 
man ; wrangles with Sarah ; and is unable to overcome 
worshippers of other Gods who have " chariots of iron." 
Always he is a " jealous " God; and at a later stage he 
is alleged to be consciously thwarted by the Israelites 
when they insist on having a king. These are aU priest- 



192 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

made stories. Among the early Greeks, the Gods are 
still less godlike. In Homer, Athene is almost the only- 
deity who is treated with habitual reverence : the others 
are so constantly satirized, humanized, thwarted, or 
humiliated, that it is difficult to associate reverence, in 
our sense, with the portrayal at all. The statement of 
Arno Neumann that "it is impossible (here every his- 
torian will agree) for one who worships a hero to think 
and speak in such a way as to contradict or essentially 
modify his own worship " ^ is an astonishingly uncritical 
pronouncement, which simply ignores the main mass of 
ancient religious literature. 

As regards the Demigods in particular it belongs to 
the very nature of the case that they should be at times 
specially thwarted and reviled by mortals, since it is 
their fate to die, albeit to rise again. If, then, sayings 
were once invented which fastened human limitations 
upon the Divine One for the Jesuists, there was nothing 
in the psychology of worshippers on their intellectual 
plane that should make them pronounce such sayings 
forgeries. As we have seen, even in the fourth gospel, 
which puts the Divine One higher than ever, he is made, 
on Professor Schmiedel's own view, to weep for sheer 
chagrin. 

§ 3. Tendential Tests 

More complex is the second question, as to how the 
Ebionite view of Jesus emerged. But the answer has 
already been indicated in terms of the myth-theory. 
And the question really cannot be answered on the 
biographical view, for the canonical documents give no 
hint ^ of a persistence of a " human " view among the 

1 Work cited, p. 9. 

2 Unless we take the story of Thomas to be an invention to confute 
doubters. 



GOSPEL-MAKING 193 



early Christists as against a " divine " one. The Judaizers 
are represented equally with the Paulinists as making 
Jesus *' Lord " ; and it is on the Paulinist side that we 
hear of adherents who do not believe in the resurrection. 
That is really a divergence from the Judaistic view, for 
Jews in general accepted immortality. The moment, 
however, we put the hypothesis of a primitive cult of a 
Saviour-God whose sacrifice in some way benefits men, 
and whose Sacrament is the machinery of that benefit, 
we account for all the varieties of Jesuism known to us. 
The cult was primordially Semitic, a thing on the out- 
skirts of later Judaism, which would be Judaized in so 
far as it came under Jewish influence, and then theo- 
logically re-cast for Gentilism by Gentilizing Jews. Thus 
there would be Judaistic Ebionites, and Jesuists such 
as those taught by the Didache, who would insist on 
connecting Jesus only with the Eucharist, making him 
a subordinate figio^e, upon whose legend were slowly 
grafted moral teachings. 

On the other hand there would be non-Jewish Jesuists 
who valued the Sacrament as they and others valued 
those of Paganism, counting on magical benefits from it 
(as " Catholics " in general did for many centuries), but 
making light of the Jewish future life. The one thing in 
common was the primordial sacrament, at once Jewish 
and non- Jewish. For Jews it would easily connect with 
the belief in immortality, already much connected with 
Messianism ; for Gentiles who accepted the former 
belief, it would be Still more easily connected with a 
doctrine of future individual salvation. All is broadly 
intelligible on the myth-theory. On the biographical 
theory, the Jesuists of the Didache are as inexpHcable as 
the Gentile Jesuists who denied a future life, or the 

Docetists who denied that Jesus had come in the flesh, 
o 



194 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

Given such Jewish Jesuists, and given Docetism, the 
invention of sayings and episodes in which Jesus is 
thwarted or flouted, or disavows Godhood, is perfectly 
simple. Why Professor Schmiedel should raise the 
question of " wickedness " in this connection I cannot 
divine. On his own showing, the invention of sayings 
and episodes was normal among the Christists in general ; 
and it affected all of the synoptics. Does he impute 
'' wickedness " to the author of the fourth gospel, whom 
he represents as inventing discourses and episodes 
systematically ? The Ebionites and Docetists had as 
much right to invent as any one else; and once their 
inventions were current, they stood a fair chance of 
being embodied in a gospel or gospel by reason of the 
general incapacity of the Christists for critical reflection. 

From the biographical standpoint, the Ebionites and 
their coimterparts the Nazarseans are indeed enigmatic. 
It is important to have a clear view of what is known as 
to both sects. ^ Origen, noting that the Hebrew name 
of the former means '' the poor," angrily implies that it 
was given to them as describing their poverty of mind,^ 
but leaves open the rational inference that the name 
originally described their chosen social status, which 
connected with a belief in the speedy end of the world. 
In his book Against Celsus,^ he tells that they include 
believers in the Virgin Birth and deniers of it. Here 
arises the surmise that the former were the socii Ehioni- 
tarum mentioned by Jerome, who diverged from Judaic 
views, and may have been of the general cast of the 
Nazarseans.^ These bodies constituted the mass of the 

1 See above, p. 113 sg., as to the Nazaraeans. 

^ De Principiis, iv, 22. ^ B. v, c. 61. 

* Cp. Neander, Church Hist. Bohn trans, i, 482-3. Jerome speaks 
(In Matt, xii, 13) of the gospel quo utuntur Nazaraei et Ebionitae, as if 
they held it in common. Cp. Nicholson, p. 28. 



GOSPEL-MAKING 195 



Christians in Judsea in the second century. According 
to the ecclesiastical tradition, the church of Jerusalem 
had withdrawn during the siege to Pella and the neigh- 
bouring region beyond the Jordan. In the reign of 
Hadrian, after the revolt and destruction of the Messiah 
Bar-Cochab, who had attempted to rebuild the temple, 
the new Roman city of ^lia Capitolina was built on 
the ruins of Jerusalem ; and in that no Jews were per- 
mitted to dwell. Only those Christians who renounced 
Judaic usages, then, could enter ; and a number of such 
Christians, Jew and Gentile, did so. Others, probably 
including both Ebionites and Nazarseans, remained at 
Pella, and these appear to have furnished the types 
of heresy discussed by Irenseus, Origen, Jerome, and 
Epiphanius under the head of Ebionism. Those who 
set up in Jerusalem were in the way of substituting for 
'' voluntary poverty " a propaganda and organization 
which meant comfort. Those who stayed behind would 
represent the primitive type. 

Now, neither Ebionism nor Nazarseanism offers any 
semblance of support for the biographical view. Some 
Ebionites denied the Virgin Birth; some, presumably 
the Nazarseans in particular, accepted it, the latter being 
described as accepting the canonical Matthew (or a 
Hebrew gospel nearly equivalent) with the present open- 
ing chapters, while the Ebionites had a Matthew without 
them. Of the two views, neither testified to any impres- 
sion made by a "personality." The Virgin Birth myth 
is a reversion to universal folk-lore by way of enlarging 
the supernaturalist claim : the Ebionite denial is either 
a rejection of all purely human claim for Jesus or only 
supematuralism with a difference, inasmuch as it in- 
ferribly posits a divinization of the Pounder either at 
the moment of his baptism or at his anointing. His 



196 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

'' personality " is the one thing never heard of in the 
discussion, so far as we can trace it. In one account, 
*' the " Ebionites are said to have alleged that Christ 
became so because he perfectly fulfilled the law, and 
that they individually might become Christs if they 
fulfilled it as perfectly.^ Ebionites and Nazarseans be- 
tween them, on the biographical view, let slip all know- 
ledge of the Sacred Places, of Golgotha, of the place of 
the Sepulchre, 

If it be asked how, on the biographical view, there 
came to be Jewish Jesuists of the Ebionite type, men 
such as those described by Justin Martyr and his Jewish 
antagonist Trypho, believing in a Jesus ''anointed by 
election " who thus became Christ, but adhering other- 
wise to Judaic practices,^ what is the answer? What 
idea, what teaching, had Jesus left them ? The notion 
which seems to have mainly differentiated Ebionites 
from Jews was simply that Jesus had been the Messiah, 
and that his Second Coming would mean the end of the 
world. Expectation of the Second Coming would at 
once promote and be promoted by poverty, which would 
thus have a special religious significance. Nazarseans, 
on the other hand, were latterly marked by a general 
opposition to the Pharisees.^ But this could perfectly 
well be a simple development of sectarianism. If it be 
claimed as a result of the teaching of Jesus, what be- 
comes of the other teaching as to the love of enemies ? 
Which species of teaching is supposed to have represented 
the " persoriahty " ? 

Given a general hostility between Nazarseans and 
Pharisees, the ascription of anti -Pharisaic teachings to 
the Master would have been in the ordinary way of 

1 Hippolytus, Ref. of all Heresies, vii, 22. 

2 Dialogue with Trypho, 47-49. ^ Neander, as cited, p. 482 and refs. 



GOSPEL-MAKING 197 

all Jewish doctrinal propaganda. In so far as they 
acclaimed sincerity and denounced formalism, they are 
intelligible as part of a general revolt against Judaic 
legalism. Nazarseans would invent anti -Pharisaic teach- 
ings just as they or '' Catholics " would invent pro- 
Samaritan teachings. And in so far as the Ebionites 
resisted the assimilation of fresh supernaturalist folk- 
lore they would tend to put appropriate sayings in the 
mouth of the Master just as did the others. They are 
expressly charged not only with inventing a saying ^ in 
denunciation of sacrifices, by way of sanctifying their 
vegetarianism, which was presumably an aspect of their 
poverty, but of tampering in various ways with their 
texts .^ This is precisely what the gospel-makers in 
general did ; and to impeach the Ebionites in particular 
is merely to ignore the general procedure. When, then, 
we say that Ebionites might well invent a saying in 
which the Master was made to repudiate Godhood, and 
that such a saying might find its way into many manu- 
scripts, as did other passages from their Hebrew gospel, 
it is quite irrelevant to raise questions of '' wickedness " 
and of '' worship," 

But it is important here to note the point, insisted 
on by Professor W. B. Smith, that most of Professor 
Schmiedel's '' pillar " texts coiild be framed with no 
thought of lowering the status of Jesus, while some, 
on the contrary, betray the motive of discrediting the 
Jews. The story of Jesus' people (of naq" avxov, not 
" friends " as in our versions) saying "He is beside 
himself " (Mk. iii, 21), is simply a GentUe intimation that 
even among his own kin or associates he was treated 
as a madman. The idea is exactly the same as that of 
the story in the fourth gospel, that " the Jews " said he 

^ Epiphanius, Hcer. xxx, 16. ^ Nicholson, pp. 15, 34, 61, 77. 



198 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

" had a devil " and was a Samaritan. Similarly " ten- 
dential " is the avowal (Mk. vi, 5) that at Nazareth the 
wonder-worker " could do no mighty work . . . and he 
marvelled because of their unbelief." Healing in other 
texts is declared to depend on faith ; and to call the 
people of Nazareth unbelievers was either to explain 
why Jesus of Nazareth there had no following or to 
emphasize the point that the Jews had rejected the 
Lord. Such a doctrine, again, as that of Mt. xii, 31, 
that blasphemy against the Son of Man was pardon- 
able, was perfectly natural at a stage at which the cult 
was seeking eagerly for converts. Had not Peter, in 
the legend, denied his Lord with curses, and Paul perse- 
cuted the Church to the death ? 

In other cases, the bearing of Professor Schmieders 
texts is so much a matter of arbitrary interpretation 
that the debate is otiose ; and in yet others there are 
insoluble questions of text corruption. The thesis that 
any text " could not have been invented," and must infer 
the existence of a teacher regarded as mortal, is so infirm 
in logic that it is not surprising to find it regarded with 
bitter dislike by the orthodox, transparently honest as is 
Professor Schmieders use of it. 

There is really more force in his argument ^ that the 
predictions of the immediate re -appearance of the Christ 
after '' the tribulation of those days " could not have been 
invented long after the fall of Jerusalem, the apparent 
impulse being rather to minimize them. They may 
perfectly well have been predictions made at the ap- 
proach of danger by professed prophets. But it does 
not in the least follow that they were made by one 
answering to the description of the gospel Jesus, pre- 
dicting his own Second Coming, though some one may 
^ Jesua in Modern Criticism, p. 33. 



GOSPEL-MAKING 199 



have so prophesied. Any Messiah would be " the 
Lord " ; and the gospel predictions as to false Christs 
tell of " many " Messiahs, every one of whom would 
speak as *' the Lord." Such utterances, after a little 
while, could no more be discriminated by the Christists 
than the certainly pre-Christian sayings put by their 
propagandists in the mouth of Jesus. And, once a 
prediction had been written down, it lived by the tenure 
of uncertainty that attached to all prediction among 
blind believers. When one " tribulation " had apparently 
passed without a Second Coming, there was nothing for 
it but to look forward to the next. 

After generations of expectation, the early eschatology 
of the Church became a burden to its conductors, inas- 
much as expectation of the end of the world made for 
disorder, and neglect of industry ; and Second Thessa- 
lonians was written to explain away previous predictions 
of imminent ending. After the whole mass of such 
prediction had been falsified by ages of continuance, 
there was stUl no critical reaction, simply because re- 
ligious belief excludes the practice of radical criticism. 
To this day, orthodoxy has no rational account to give 
of the pervading doctrine of the New Testament as to the 
speedy end of the world. The biographical school finds 
in it a measure of support for its belief in a real Jesus, 
who shared the delusions of his age. But as that ex- 
planation equally applies to all men in the period, it 
gives the biographical view no standing as against the 
myth-theory. Christian prophets spoke for " the Lord " 
just as Jewish prophets did before them. 

In this connection, finally, it has to be noted that 
Professor Schmiedel finds an a priori authenticity in a 
prediction in which Jesus claims supernatural status, 
though the ostensibly unhistorical character of such 



200 THE JESUS PROBLEM 



claims was his avowed ground for positing the " pillar- 
texts " which alone defied all skepticism. And the 
formula in both cases is the same — " it could not have 
been invented." ^ The major premiss involved is : 
" No passage could be invented which would stultify the 
position of the believers." But do none of the admitted 
inventions ^ in the gospels stultify the position of the 
believers ? The two genealogies do ; the anti-Davidic 
passages stultify these; the pro-Samaritan teaching 
stultifies the anti-Samaritan ; and so on through twenty 
cases of contradiction. M. Loisy, indeed, claims the 
pro-Samaritan passage as genuine : does he then admit 
the anti-Samaritan to be spurious ? 

The biographical school cannot have it both ways. 
The very fact that they have to oust so many passages 
on the score of incompatibility is the complete answer > 
to the plea of '' genuine because imsuitable to the pur- 
poses of the propaganda." The fact that a multitude 
of contradictions are left standing proves simply that 
when once an awkward passage was installed it was 
nearly impossible to get rid of it; because some copies 
were always left which retained it ; and in the stage of 
increasing respect for the written word it was generally 
restored. The " Jesus " before Barabbas was at last 
ejected only because everybody recoiled from it. Pre- 
dictions were not so easily dropped. 

On the page on which he claims that Jesus' prediction 
of his Second Coming could not have been invented, 
Professor Schmiedel avows that various passages in 

1 Cp. the Professor's work on The Johannine Writings, p. 90, where 
the same query: "Who could have invented them?" is put as 
establishing special sayings of Buddha, Confucius, Zarathustra, and 
Mohammed. I cannot follow the logic. 

2 The argument is the same whether we say "inventions of the 
evangelists " or " appropriations from other documents, or from 
hearsay." 



GOSPEL-MAKING 201 



Mt. xxiv really belong to '' a small composition, perhaps 
Jewish, on the signs of the end of the world, written 
shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 
70." If the one set of passages are borrowed, why not 
the other? Was it unlikely that Jewish eschatologists 
should predict the coming of the Son of Man at the near 
end of the world, and that Jesuists should put the pre- 
diction in the mouth of their Lord and make him say it 
of himself ? The a priori negative is quite untenable. 

While, then, the argument from imsuitableness is 
logically barred for the biographical school by their own 
frequent rejection of passages on the score of incom- 
patibility, no aspect or portion of the New Testament 
supplies a conclusive argument against the mythological 
view. The whole constitutes an intelligible set of growths 
from the point of view of the myth-theory; and from 
no other is the medley explicable. A biographical 
theory, having posited a Messiah whose Messianic claim 
is a mystery, a Teacher whose alleged teachings are a 
mass of conflicting tendencies, and whose disciples 
admittedly have no Messianic gospel till after his in- 
explicable execution, following on an impossible trial, 
may make the assumption that by way of popular myth 
he was then fortuituously deified by Messianist Jews, 
and later transformed by other Jews into a Saviour for 
Gentiles ; but the biographical theory cannot even pre- 
tend to account for the Apocalypse and the DidachS ; 
and it has to renounce its own ground principle of '' per- 
sonality " in order to assimilate the Epistles. On critical 
principles, assent must go to the theory which explains 
things, reducing the otherwise inexplicable to a natural 
evolution on the known lines and bases of hierology. 



202 THE JESUS PROBLEM 



§ 4. Historic Summary 

We may now bring together in one outline the series 
of inductive hypotheses by which we seek to recover 
the natural evolution of the historic cult. 

1. A primitive Semitic sacramental cult, whose sacra- 
ment centres in a slain Saviour-God, a Jesus, who has 
assimilated to an abstraction of the victim annually 
sacrificed to him — as in the case of the cults of Adonis 
and Attis, both also Asiatic. Of the sacrificial rite, 
which in the historic cult is embodied in the Last Supper 
and the dramatized story of the Passion, the memory 
was preserved in particular by a Jewish rite of Jesus 
Barabbas, Jesus the Son of the Father, in which a victim 
goes through a mock coronation, ending latterly, perhaps, 
in a mock-execution, where once there had been an actual 
human sacrifice. 

2. This cult, with its sacrament, existed sporadically 
in various parts of Asia Minor, whence it spread to Greece 
and Egypt. Its forms would vary, and under Jewish 
control the sacrificial sacrament tended to be reduced 
to a Eucharist or thankoffering in which the " body 
and blood " are only vaguely, if at all, reminiscent of 
the Divine One's death. As a God can always be de- 
veloped indefinitely out of a God-Name, and personal 
Gods are historically but conceptual aggregates shaped 
round names or functions, the adherents of this could 
proselytize like others. When the Temple of Jerusalem 
fell in the year 70, the adherents of the cult there had a 
new opportunity and motive, which some of them actively 
embraced, to cut loose from the Judaic basis and proclaim 
a religion of universal scope, freed from Judaic trammels 
and claims. Economic motives played a considerable 
part in the process. 

3. The first tendency of the new Jewish promoters had 



GOSPEL-MAKING 203 



been to develop the Saviour-God of the sacramental rite 
(which they may at this stage have adopted in its *' pagan " 
form, now taken as canonical) into a Messiah who was to 
" come again," introducing the Jewish '" kingdom of 
heaven." At a later stage they adopted the rite of 
baptism, traditionally associated with John, whom they 
represented as a Forerunner of the Messiah who had 
met, baptized, and acclaimed him, playing the part 
assigned by Jewish prophecy to Elias. 

4. As time passed on, such a cult would of necessity 
die out among Jews, in default of the promised " Second 
Coming." The connection of the idea of salvation with 
a future life for all believers, Jew or Gentile, gave it a 
new and larger lease of life throughout the Roman 
Empire, in every part of which there were Asiatics. 
But the Jewish doctrine of the Second Coming remained 
part of the developed teaching. 

5. Further machinery was accordingly necessary to 
spread and sustain the cult ; and this was spontaneously 
provided by (a) developments of the early and simple 
propagandist organization, and (b) provision for the 
needs of the poor, who among the Gentiles as among 
the Jews were the natural adherents of a faith promising 
the speedy closing of the earthly scene. R,icher sympa- 
thizers won esteem by giving their aid ; but the poor, 
as always, helped each other. The propaganda included 
the services of travelling '' prophets," and '' apostles " 
who would be the natural compilers and inventors of 
Jesuine lore. The administrative organization, framed 
on Hellenistic lines, put more and more power in the 
hands of the bishop, whose interest it was to develop 
his diocese. At first the " prophets " and '' apostles " 
were strictly peripatetic, being called upon to avoid the 
appearance of mercenariness. In course of time they were 
enabled to settle down, being systematically provided for. 



204 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

6. Under the hands of this organization grew up the 
Christian Sacred Books, which gave the cult its footing 
as against, or rather alongside of, the Jewish, which in 
the circumstances had an irresistible and indispensable 
prestige. Thus on the literary side the Jewish influence 
overlaid the non-Jewish, assimilating the outside elements 
of scattered Jesuism. The earliest literature is Jewish, 
as in the case of the Didache, or a Jewish-Jesuist manipu- 
lation of outside Semitic matter, as in the Apocalypse. 
On these foundations are laid " Christian " strata. 

7. The Didachi (" Teaching of the Twelve Apostles 
of the Lord ") was primarily a brief manual of mono- 
theistic and moral instruction used by the Twelve Apostles 
of the Jewish High Priest. To this, Jesuist matter was 
gradually added. The result was that " Twelve Apostles " 
became part of the Christian tradition; and they had 
ultimately to be imposed on the gospel record, which 
obviously had not originally that item. 

8. The Epistles represent a polemic development, 
perhaps on the basis of a few short Paulines. That of 
JameSj which has no specific " Christian " colour, repre- 
sents Judaic resistance, in the Ebionite temper of '' volun- 
tary poverty," to the Gentilizing movement. The 
Paulines carry on doctrinal debate and construction 
against the Judaistic influence. The synoptic gospels, 
which in their present forms were developing about the 
same time, reflect those struggles primarily in anti- 
Samaritan and pro-Samaritan pronouncements, both 
ascribed to Jesus. Primarily the gospels are Judaic, 
and the Gentilizing movement had naturally not em- 
ployed them. Paul is made in effect to disclaim their 
aid. In time they are adopted and partly turned to 
anti -Judaic ends. 

9. The chief Gentile achievement in the matter is the 
development of the primitive sacrament-motive and 



GOSPEL-MAKING 205 



ritual (fundamentally dramatic) into the mystery -play 
which is transcribed in the closing chapters of Matthew 
and Mark. Previous accoimts of the foundation of the 
Sacrament and the death of the Lord are now super- 
seded by a vivid though dramatically brief narrative in 
which the Jewish people are collectively saddled with 
the guilt of his death and the Roman government is 
crudely and impossibly exonerated. The apostles in 
general are made to play a poor part ; one plays an im- 
possible role of betrayer; and the legendary Judaizing 
apostle is made to deny his Master. The whole story 
is thoroughly unhistorical, from the triumphal Entry 
to the quasi-regal crucifixion ; but it embodied the main 
ritual features of the traditional human sacrifice, and, 
there being simply no biographical record to compete 
with it, it held its groimd. The mystery -play in its 
complete form was inferribly developed and played in 
a Gentile city ; and its transcription probably coincided 
with its cessation as a drama. But the Sacrament was 
long a quasi-secret rite. 

10. The picture drawn in the Acts, in which Peter 
and Paul alike " turn to the Gentiles " — Peter taking 
the initiative — is the work of a late and discreet re- 
dactor, bent on reconciling Jewish and Gentile factors. 
It is a highly factitious account of early Christism ; but 
it preserves traces of the early state of things, in which 
no Jesuine teaching was pretended to be current, and 
the cult is seen to exist in a scattered form independently 
of the central propaganda. It evidently had a footing 
in Samaria. The synoptics themselves reveal the absence 
of baptism from the early procedure of the cult. Only 
in the latest of the four canonical gospels is it pretended 
that either Jesus or his disciples had baptized. 

11. The fourth gospel is only one more systematic 
step in the process of mj^th-making. The biographical 



206 ' THE JESUS PEOBLEM 

school, in giving this up as unhistorical, in effect admits 
that the " personality " of the alleged Teacher had been 
so ineffectual as to admit of a successful interposition of 
a new and thoroughly mythical figure, entirely super- 
natural in theory, but more '' impressive " as a speaking 
and quasi-human personage. The " Logos " of John is 
again an adaptation of a Jewish adaptation of a pagan 
conception, the doctrine of the Logos set forth by the 
Alexandrian Jew Philo having come through Greek and 
Eastern channels,^ There was no critical faculty in the 
early Church that could secure its rejection, though it 
wa^ somewhat slow of acceptance. The doctrine of 
the Trinity is again an assimilation from paganism, 
proximately Egyptian.^ 

Such, in outline, is our working hypothesis. As ex- 
plained at the outset, it is not supposed that so complex 
a problem can in so brief a space and time be conclusively 
solved ; and criticism will doubtless involve modification 
when criticism is scientifically applied. To such scientific 
criticism the production of a complete outline may be 
an aid ; previous debate, even when rational in temper, 
having been spent on some of the " trees " without 
regard to the *' wood" in general. All that is claimed 
for the complete hypothesis is that it is at all points in- 
ductively reached, and that for that reason it squares 
better with the whole facts than any form of the bio- 
graphical theory — including the highly attenuated *' escha- 
tological " form in which Jesus is conceived solely as a 
proclaimer of "the last things." That thesis, indeed, 
reduces the biographical theory to complete nullity by 
leaving the mass of the record without any explanation 
save the mythical one, which sufiices equally to account 
for eschatology. 

1 P.C. 218 s?.; CM. 395. ^ P.O. 206, 223, 228; CM. 395. 



Chapter VIII 
SUPPLEMENTARY MYTH 

§ 1. Myths of Healing 

It is significant that the later myth-making of the 
synoptics is partly by way of reversion to the folk- 
lore in which the myth had risen, partly by way of 
meeting non-Jewish Messianic requirements, partly by 
way of Gentilism, partly by way of concessions to the 
Gnosticism or occultism whose pretensions in the second 
century exercised so strong a pressure on the Church. 
As Professor Smith points out, the story in Mark (xiv, 
51-52) of the youth who at the betrayal fled naked, 
leaving his linen cloth in the hands of the captors,^ is 
a crude provision for the Docetic theory that the real 
Christ did not suffer. Cerinthus taught that ** at last 
Christ departed from Jesus, and that then Jesus suffered 
and rose again, while Christ remained impassible, inasmuch 
as he was a spiritual being." ^ 

In this connection there arises for us the problem, 
stressed by Professor Smith, as to the significance of 
the stories of wholesale healing and casting out of devils. 
His thesis is that they were an occult way of convejdng 
the claim that Jesus by preaching monotheism had cast 
out in Galilee the diseases and corruptions of poly- 
theism, pagan deities being " devils " for the Jew. And 
in view of the repeated assertion, on Gnostic lines, that 

^ Compare the story of Joseph, Gen. 
2 Irenaeus, Against Heresies^ i, 26, 
207 



208 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

Jesus declared his teaching to be made purposely occult, 
so as not to be understood by the people, we cannot deny 
the possibility that some of the stories of healing may 
have been so intended. Professor Smith, as I under- 
stand him, argues ^ that a straightforward claim of whole- 
sale overthrowing of paganism would have offended the 
Roman Government ; and that the claim was put by 
metaphor to avoid that. The difficulty arises that if 
the metaphor was not understood by Gentiles it missed 
its mark with them ; while if they did understand it 
their susceptibilities would be particularly wounded by 
the metaphors of leprosy and blindness and " devils," 
And there is the further difficulty that, as Professor 
Smith notes, the stories of casting out devils relate 
solely to half-heathen Galilee, while, as he also notes, 
there is no ultimate trace of Jesuism there. ^ Why then 
should an allegory of casting out polytheism have been 
framed concerning Galilee ? 

On any view, it can hardly be doubted that the stories 
of healing made their popular appeal as simple miracles. 
Professor Schmiedel's argument that the claim of Jesus 
(Mt. xi, 5 ; Lk. vii, 22) to heal blindness and lameness 
and leprosy, and to raise the dead, must be understood 
in a spiritual sense, seems to me a complete failure. 
He contends that if it be taken literally the final claim 
that '' the poor have the gospel preached to them " is 
an anti-climax. But if we take the miracle-claims to 
be merely spiritual, the anti-climax is absolute ; for the 
proposition then runs that the blind, the lame, the 
leprous, and the spiritually dead have the gospel 
preached to them, and the poor have the gospel preached 
to them also. On the other hand, there is no real anti- 
climax on a literal interpretation. Plainly, the pro- 

1 Ecce Deu8, p. 60. ^ j^^ pp i7i_2. 



SUPPLEMENTAEY MYTH 209 

vision of good tidings for the merely poor, the most 
numerous suffering class of all, was the one thing that 
could be said to be done for them. It could not be 
pretended that they had been made wealthy. Thus a 
"pillar-text" falls, and we are left committed to the 
literal interpretation as against both Professor Smith 
and Professor Schmiedel. Both, however, will probably 
agree that most readers always took the literal view.^ 



§ 2. Birth-Myths 

And it was to the popular credulity that appeal was 
made by the stories of the Annimciation, the Virgin 
Birth, the Adoration by the Magi and the Shepherds, 
the stable, the manger, ^ the menace of Herod, the massacre, 
and the flight. ^ The question that here arises for the 
mythologist is whether the birth-myths had belonged 
to the early Jesus-myth at a stage before gospel-making 
commenced, and had at first been ignored, only to be 
embodied later. For suggesting that they had been 
connected with the early myth I have been told by 
Dr. Carpenter and Dr. Conybeare that I ignored the 
late acceptance of the Christmas Birthday by '^ the 
Church," after I had expressly noted the late date of 
that acceptance. These critics, as usual, miss the whole 
problem. 

Either the birth-stories were old lore in Syria (or 

1 Cp. Ecce Devs, p. 26, 

2 Dr. Thorburn {Mythical Interpretation, p. 34) sees fit to argue that 
the Christian <p6.Tvr\ was a " totally different thing " from the pagan 
kUvov (that is, if he argues anything at all). He carefully ignores 
the sculptures which show them to be the same. {CM. 192, 307.) 

3 Cp. Soltau on the appeal made by the story {Birth of Jesus Christ, 
Eng. tr. p. 4). " What is there," he asks, " that can be compared 
with this in the religious literature of any other people ? " The critic 
should compare the literature of Krishnaism. 

P 



210 THE JESUS PEOBLEM 

elsewhere in the East) ^ or they were not. If not, their 
imposition on the gospel story in the second century 
represents an assimilation of quite alien pagan matter, 
with the assent of the main body of Jewish Nazarseans, 
who accepted the opening chapters of the canonical 
Matthew. Of such an assent, no explanation can be 
given from the standpoint or standpoints of Dr. Cony- 
beare and Dr. Carpenter. It would be a gratuitous 
capitulation to GentUism in a Jewish atmosphere, and 
this without any sign on the Pauline side of a Gentile 
obtrusion of such matter.^ But if, on the other hand, 
we put the hypothesis that such matter had been con- 
nected in Syrian folk-lore with the old Jesus -myth, we 
at once find an explanation for the additions to the 
gospel-story and a new elucidation of the myth-theory. 
The spread of the Jesus cult would bring to the front 
the primitive myths connected with it which the reigning 
Judaic sentiment had at first kept out of sight as savour- 
ing of heathenism ; and all Jesus -lore would have a 
progressive interest for converts. Judaism, in its re- 
dacted sacred books, admitted of quasi-supernatural 
births in such cases as those of Sarah and Hannah ; but 
an absolute virgin birth, a commonplace in heathen 
mythology,^ had there no recognition. Yet the idea 

^ Ludwig Conrady argues {Die Quelle der kanonischen Kindheits- 
geschichte Jesu8\ 1900, p. 272 sq.) that the stories of the Infancy in 
the Apocryphal Gospels, which appear to be at that point the sources 
for Matthew and Luke, probably derive from Egypt, where the hieratic 
ideals of virginity were high. This may be, but the evidence is very 
imperfect. 

2 The precedents of the divine paternity of Alexander and Augustus, 
stressed by Soltau, would surely be inadequate. Heathen emperors 
would' hardly be " types " for early Christians. 

3 The Rev. Dr. Thorburn idly argues {Mythical Interpretation, 
pp. 38-39) that such stories do not affirm parthenogenesis where a 
Goddess or a woman is described as married. As if Mary were not in 
effect so described ! But in Greek mythology we have the special case 
of the spouse-goddess Here, who is repeatedly represented as conceiving 
without congress. {CM. 296.) 



SUPPLEMENTAEY MYTH 211 

was as likely to survive in folk-lore in Syria as anywhere 
else ; and as Judaism became more and more a hostile 
thing, Judaic views would tend in various ways to be set 
aside. 

The hypothesis put by me is (1) that the certainly 
unhistorical Miriam of the Pentateuch is inferribly, like 
Moses and Joshua, an ancient deity; and that in old 
Palestinian myth she was the mother of Joshua. In 
the Pentateuch she is degraded, as part of the Evemeristic 
process of reducing the ancient popular Gods to human 
status. That process, which affects Goddesses as wel 
as Gods in several ancient religions,^ was for the Hebrew' 
priesthood a necessary rule. Polytheism was everywhere, 
in antiquity, and for the Yahwists it must be cast out. 
A late Persian tradition that Joshua was the son of 
Miriam ^ accents the query whether there were no famUy 
relationships in the old Palestinian myths. That the 
birth in a stable, with a ritual of babe-worship at the 
winter or summer solstice, is very ancient both in the 
East and in the West, is the conclusion forced on the 
mythologist by a mass of evidence ; and the location of 
the stable at Bethlehem in a cave connects the Christian 
^yth yet further with a number of those of paganism.^ 
If the matter of the myth was ancient for Syria, why should 
not the names of the mother and the child be so ? 

The fashion in which the hypothesis is met by the 
more impassioned adherents of the biographical view is 
instructive. Dr. Conybea^e, who thinks it inconceivable 
that "a myth" should be mistaken for ''a man" — 
though that mistake is the gist of masses of mythology — 
finds no difficulty in conceiving that a real woman may 
be turned into a myth within a century. For him, the 

1 P.O. 166, note 3. ^ qj^^ 99. p (j igg 

» CM. 191 sq., 306 aq. 



212 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

gospel '* Mary " (Maria or Mariam) must be a real Jewess 
because in Mark (vi, 3) the people of Nazareth ask ; 
''Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother 
of James, and Joses, and Judas, and Simon ? and are 
not his sisters with us ? " Any thoughtful reader, com- 
paring such a suddenly projected passage with the 
opening chapters, realizes that it is on a wholly different 
plane of ideas ; that no one '' author " can have posited 
both ; and that the later is part of a process of localiza- 
tion and debate, in connection with the thesis that the 
healer could " do no wonder-work " at home because of 
the unbelief of his own people. Furthermore, in Mark 
XV, 40, we have the group of women which includes 
" Mary the mother of James the Little and of Joses," 
concerning whom we are told that when Jesus was in 
Galilee they *' followed him, and ministered mito him." 
How many Maries, then, were mothers of James and 
Joses ? Evidently the Mary of the latter passage is 
not regarded by its writer as the mother of Jesus. Then 
the prior passage is the later in order of time, and alien 
to the other legends. 

Our exegete, nevertheless, is not only at once dog- 
matically certain that he has found a real Jesus, son of 
Mary, but proceeds to assert, in three separate passages, 
that in Mark's gospel Jesus is known as '' the son of 
Joseph and Mary," though Joseph is never mentioned in 
that gospel. It is of a piece with his instantaneous in- 
vention of a " genuine tradition " out of a modem hint, 
perverted. And it is this operator who, meeting with a 
list of analogies (so described) which suggest that 
" Miriam " and *' Mariam " are variants of a Mother- 
Goddess name generally current through the East, 
becomes incoherent in explosive protest, and begins by 
informing me that the " original form of the name is 



SUPPLEMENTARY MYTH 213 

not Maria but Miriam, which does not lend itself to 
[these] hardy equations." As Miriam had been expressly 
named and discussed by me in the very first instance, the 
intimation tells only of the mental disconnection which 
is the general mark of this writer's procedure. 

The question, of course, is not philological at all ; 
and not only was no philological " equation " ever 
hinted at, but the very passage attacked begins with 
the avowal that it is impossible to prove historical con- 
nections, and that what is in question is analogy of 
'' name and epithets." Nothing in philology is more 
speculative than the explanation of early names. Any 
one who has noted the discussion over *' Moses," and 
noted the diverging theories, from the Coptic " water- 
rescued " or '' water-child " {mo-use) of Josephus and Philo 
and Jablonski and Deutsch to the Egyptian '' child " 
{mes or mesu) of Lepsius and Dillmann, and the inference 
of an " abbreviation of a theophorous Egyptian name " 
drawn by Renan and Guthe, will see that there is small 
light to be had from " equations." When '' Miriam " 
is expertly described as '' a distortion either of Merari 
[misri] or of Amramith," ^ the mythologist is moved to 
seek for other clues. The philology of Maria and 
Mariam is a hopeless problem. 

Now, if the Moses legend is to be held Egyptian, the 
Miriam legend may well be so too ; and in the items that 
the Egyptian princess who saves the child Moses is in a 
Jewish legend named Merris, and that one of the daughters 
of Ramses II is foimd to be named Meri,^ the analogy is 
worth noting. But the central mythological fact is that 
a Mother-Goddess, a '' Madonna " nursing a child, is 
one of the commonest objects of ancient worship through- 
out Asia and North Africa.^ When, then, mothers of 
1 Encyc. Bib. art, Moses, col. 3206. " CM. 298. ^ j^^^ 167 sg. 



214 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

Gods born in caves, or Dying Demigods, are found bearing 
such names as Myrrha and Maia ; when Mala is noted 
to have the meaning " nurse/' and Mylitta that of '' the 
child-bearing one/' we are not only moved to surmise a 
Mother-Goddess-name of many variants, of which Miriam- 
Mariam is one, but to infer a wide diffusion of legends 
concerning such a goddess-type. Figures of such a goddess 
abounded throughout the East.^ That is, in brief, the 
mythological case at this point. Mary in the gospels, 
the virgin bearing a divine child, flying from danger, and 
bearing her child on a journey, in a cave, is the analogue 
of a dozen ancient myths of the Divine Child; the 
Menaced Child is common to the myths of Moses and 
Sargon, Krishna and Cyrus, Arthur and Herakles ; the 
stable-ritual of the Adoration is prehistoric in India in 
connection with Krishna; the "manger" (a basket) 
belongs equally to the myths of Zeus, Hermes, Ion and 
Dionysos; and the threatening king is a myth-figure 
found alike in East and West.^ 

All this is ostensibly '' sun-myth/' And we are asked 
by Dr. Conybeare to believe, on the strength of one late 
and palpable interpolation in Mark, which has no other 
word concerning the childhood, parentage, or birthplace 
of Jesus, its Son of God, that his mother Mary was a 
well-known figure in Nazareth about the year 30, and 
that it is merely she who is made to play the mythic 
part in Matthew about a century later. The simple use 
of common-sense, even by a reader who has not studied 
comparative mythology, will reveal the improbability 
of such a development; and Dr. Conybeare, who vehe- 
mently denies, for other purposes, that the early Christians 

^ CM 168-9. Cp. Dr. G. Contenau, La ddesse nue Babylonienne, 
1914, *pp. 7, 15, 16, 57, 78, 80. 101, 129, 131. 
2 CM. 180-205. 



SUPPLEMENTARY MYTH 215 

in Palestine could have any knowledge of pagan myths, 
is the last person who could consistently affirm it. But 
when we realize that under the shell of official Judaism 
there subsisted in Palestine as everywhere else the folk- 
lore of the past ; ^ when we remember the " weeping for 
Tammuz " at Jerusalem and the location of the birth of 
Adonis in the very stable-cave of the Christ-legend at 
Bethlehem, we can quite rationally conceive how, once 
the Jesus-myth was well re-established, old pre-Judaic 
elements of it came to the front, and found from the 
later gospel-compilers a welcome they could not have 
had in the Judaizing days.^ 

The Joseph myth, again, is a very obvious construc- 
tion. In Mark, which Dr. Conybeare repeatedly and 
shrilly declares to be the primary authority, Joseph is 
never once mentioned, though Dr. Conybeare, with the 
eye of imagination, finds that he is. In Matthew, he 
figures throughout the birth-story of the opening section, 
admittedly a late addition. In Luke, still later, he is 
still further developed, Mark's " son of Mary " becoming 
(iv, 22) '' the son of Joseph," in a palpably late fiction. 
Any critical method worthy of the name would reckon 
with such plain marks of late fabrication. Joseph has 

1 Soltau argues not only that the beUef in the Virgin Birth " could 
not have originated in Palestine ; anyhow, it could never have taken 
its rise in Jewish circles," but that " the idea that the Holy Spirit 
begat Jestis can have no other than a Hellenic origin " {Birth of Jesus 
Christ, Eng. trans, pp. 47-48). He forgets the "sons of God" in 
Genesis vi, 2. The stories of the births of Isaac and Samson inferribly 
had an original form less decorous than the Biblical. 

2 It is doubly edifying to remember that the writer who pretends 
to find in avowed analogies of divine names, functions, and epithets 
a theory of a philological "equation," himself insists on finding in 
every New Testament naming of a Jesus, and every pagan allusion 
to a " Chrestus " or " Christus," a biographical allusion to Jesus of 
Nazareth. For Dr. Conybeare, the Jesus of the Apocalypse and the 
" Chrestus " of Suetonius are testimonies to the existence of Jesus 
the son of Mary and Joseph. The very absiurdity he seeks to find 
in the myth-theory is inherent in his own method. 



216 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

been super-imposed on the myth for a reason ; and the 
reason is that a Messiah "the Son of Joseph" was de- 
manded from the Samaritan side as a Messiah the Son of 
David was demanded (albeit not universally) from the 
Judaic side.^ By naming Jesus' earthly putative father 
Joseph, in the Davidic descent, both requirements were 
met, on lines of traditionalist psychology. 

When this solution is met by the Unitarian thesis that 
the idea of a Messiah Ben Joseph is late in Judaism, and 
that it arose out of the gospel story, we can but appeal 
to the common-sense of the reader.^ For the Rabbis to 
set up such a formula on such a motive would be an 
inconceivable self-stultification. The lateness of Rab- 
binical discussion on the subject can be quite reasonably 
explained through its Samaritan origination. All the 
while, the Joseph story in the gospels belongs precisely 
to that late legend which the neo -Unitarian school is 
bound in consistency to reject as myth. But the pre- 
possession in favour of a '' human Jesus " balks at no 
inconsistency, and selects its items not on critical principles 
but simply in so far as they can be made to compose with 
a '* human " figure that is to be conserved at all costs. 

The curious myth-motive of the '' taxing " ® at Beth- 
lehem in Luke, an utterly unhistorical episode, has a 
remarkable parallel in the Krishna-myth,* which has 
been cited in support of the thesis that that myth in 

1 CM. 301-2 and refs. 

^ The Rev. Dr. Thorburn {Mythical Interpretation, p. 21) cites from 
the Encyc. Bib. as " the words of Dr. Cheyne " words which are not 
Cheyne's at all, but those of Robertson Smith. Smith, so scientific 
in his anthropology, is always irrationalist in his theology. 

3 R.V. "enrolment." Dr. Thorbm?n appears to argue (p. 39) that 
the " taxing " story in the Krishna-myth is derived from " ignorant 
copying " of the English Authorized Version! The "to be taxed " of 
the A.V. of course represents the traditional interpretation — that 
taxing was the object of the enrolment. 

* O.M. 189-90. 



SUPPLEMENTARY MYTH 217 

general is derived from the Christian story. The general 
thesis breaks down completely;^ and in this one in- 
stance we are obviously entitled to ask whether the 
Christian myth is not derived from some intermediate 
Asiatic source connecting with the Indian.^ As a mere 
invention to motive the birth at Bethlehem the story 
seems exceptionally extravagant. 

§ 3. Minor Myths 

To discuss in simUar detail the myths of the Apocryphal 
gospels and the still later myths of Catholic Christendom 
would only be to extend the area of our demonstration 
without adding to its scientific weight. The general 
result would only be to prove derivations from pagan 
sources and to exhibit more fully the process (a) of in- 
venting sayings of Jesus to vindicate different views 
of his Messianic and other functions, and (&) of en- 
forcing ethical views by his authority. The legend of 
St. Christopher, for instance, is but a variant, probably 
iconographic in motive, of a multiform pagan myth 
which probably roots in a ritual of child-carrying.^ 
Iconography yields many evidences. The conventional 

1 CM. 273. 

^ I have been represented, by scholars who will not take the trouble 
to read the books they attack, as deriving the Christ-myth in general 
from the Krishna-myth. This folly belongs solely to their own imagina- 
tion. Dr. Conybeare's assertion [Histor. Christ, p. 69) that in my 
theory the Pro to- Christian Joshua-God was a composite myth " made 
up of memories of Krishna . . . and a hundred other fiends," is of the 
same order. In his case, of course, I do not charge omission to read 
the statement he falsifies : it is simply a matter of his normal inability 
to understand any position he attacks. As regards the Krishna-myth 
I suggest only in the detail of the *' taxing " the possibility of Christian 
borrowing through an intermediate source : in another, that of " the 
bag " which is carried by a hostile demon-follower of Krishna {CM. 
241-3), I suggest the possibility of Indian borrowing from the fourth 
gospel, where " the bag " is presmnptively derived from a stage acces- 
sory in the mystery-drama, Judas carrying a bag to receive his reward. 

3 C.M. 205 sq. 



218 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

figure of the Good-Shepherd carrying a sheep, which like 
the Birth-Story has counted for so much in popularizing 
Christianity, is admittedly derived from pagan art/ 
like the conventional angel-figure. Even the figure of 
Peter ^ as the bearer of the keys, head of the Twelve, and 
denier of his Lord, connects curiously with the myths of 
Proteus and Janus Bifrons,^ both bearers of the cosmic 
keys. 

Iconography, again, is probably the source, for the 
gospels, of the myth of the Temptation, which professional 
scholars continue solemnly to discuss as a " biographical " 
episode to be somehow reduced to historicity. The story 
coincides so absolutely with the Grseco-Roman account, 
evidently derived from painting or sculpture, of Pan (in 
figure the Satan of the Jews) standing by the young 
Jupiter on a mountain-top before an altar,* that it might 
seem unnecessary to go further. But, recognizing that 
" of myth there is no ' original,' save man's immemorial 
dream," and remembering that there are similar Tempta- 
tion myths concerning Buddha and Zarathustra, we are 
bound to extend the inquiry. The results are very 
interesting. 

We are specially concerned with the versions of 
Matthew and Luke, of which Dr. Spitta, by analysis, 
finds the Lucan the earlier,^ pronouncing the Marcan 
to be a curtailment and manipulation, not the primary 

1 G.M. 207. 

2 Id. 347 sq.; Drews, Die Petrus Legende (pamphlet), 1910. 

3 Dr. Conybeare, undeviating in error, represents me [Histor. Christy 
p. 73) as suggesting that the epithet bifrons led to the invention of the 
story of Peter's Denial. I had expressly pointed out that the epithet 
bifrons did not carry an aspersive sense, and suggested that the figure 
of Janus, with its Petrine characteristics, might have inspired the 
story of the Denial (CM. 350-1). The subject of iconographic myth 
is evidently unknown matter to Dr. Conybeare. 

* CM. 318 sq. 

* Die Versitchung Jesu (in Zur Oesch. und Litt. des UrchriatentumSy 
HI, ii, 1907, pp. 63, 65. 



SUPPLEMENTARY MYTH 219 

source, as was maintained by Von Hamack and many 
others.^ The essence of the story, as episode, is the 
presence of the God and the Adversary on a high place, 
surveying " the kingdoms of the world." This originates 
proximately in Babylonian astronomy and astrology, 
where the Goat-God is represented standing beside the 
Sun-God on " the mountain of the world," that is, the 
height of the heavens, at the beginning of the sun's yearly 
course in the sign Capricorn, which, personified, figures 
as the sun's tutor and guide. Graphically represented, 
it is the origin of a series of Greek myths — Pan and Zeus ; 
Marsyas and Apollo ; Silenus and Dionysos — all turning 
on a goat-legged figure beside a young God on a mountain- 
top. Satan and Jesus are but another variant, probably 
deriving from Greek iconography, but possibly more 
directly from the East, where the idea of a Temptation 
goes back to the Vedas. 

The theologians, reluctantly admitting, of late, that 
the Devil could not carry Jesus through the air, anxiously 
debate as to whether or not Jesus had strange psychic 
experiences which he communicated to his disciples ; 
and, utterly ignoring comparative mythology, look for 
motivation, as usual, only in the Old Testament. Spitta, 
after checking these researches, and declaring that the 
man is not to be envied who hopes to explain the story 
by Old Testament parallels from the forty years of 
wandering in the wildenless,^ confidently concludes that 
it stands for the spiritual experience of Jesus in regard 
to his Messianic ideal. ^ To such a biographical inference 
he has not the slightest critical right on his own principles. 
The gospels say nothing whatever of any communication 

1 The simple principle of holding Mark for primary wherever it is 
brief has meant many such assumptions, in which many of us once 
uncritically acquiesced. 

2 As cited, p. 85. ' Id, pp. 92-93. 



220 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

on the subject by Jesus to his disciples. The story is 
myth pure and simple , and belongs to universal mythology. 

Mark turned the story to the illustration of the doctrine 
laid down in the Testaments op the Twelve Patri- 
archs/ that devils and wild beasts will flee from the 
righteous man ; and Luke and Matthew turn it into an 
affirmation of the theological maxims of Jewish mono- 
theism ; but these are simply the invariable practices of 
the evangelists, steeped in the habits of thought of Jewish 
symbolism. The myth remains ; and the story, as 
story, has counted for a great deal more in Christian 
popular lore than the theology. When the writer of the 
fourth gospel put the miracle of turning water into wine 
in the forefront of his work, he doubtless had symbolic 
intentions ; ^ but his story is simply an adaptation of the 
annual Dionysiac rite of turning water into wine at the 
festival of the God on Twelfth Night. ^ It may have 
come either from the Greek or from the eastern side. 
The duplicated tale of the Feeding of the Five Thousand, 
again, is either an adaptation of or an attempt to excel the 
story of the feeding of the host of Dionysos in a waterless 
desert in his campaign against the Titans.* As the God 
had the power of miraculously producing, by touch, corn 
and wine and oil, his lore doubtless included miracles of 
feeding. The touch of the seating of the people " in 
ranks, by hundreds, and by fifties " (Mk. vi, 40) suggests 
a pictorial source. 

Thus did paganism, chased out of the window of early 
Judaic Christianity, re-enter by all the doors, supplying 
the growing Church with the forms of psychic and literary 
attraction which ultimately served to give it a general 
hold over the ignorant and uncivilized masses of decadent 

1 Test. Naphtali, viii, 4. '^ This is ably argued by Prof. Smith. 

2 CM. 329 sq, * Id. 336 aq. 



SUPPLEMENTARY MYTH 221 

and barbaric Europe.^ Even with that machinery, the 
Church was dissolving in universal schism when Con- 
stantine saved it — or at least its body — by establishing it. 
As the Church broadened its basis, especially after its 
establishment, its assimilation of pagan ideas, names 
and practices, became so general that the process has 
long been made a standing ground of Protestant impeach- 
ment of the Church of E-ome.^ Middleton's Letter from 
Rome (1729) may be said to begin the scientific investiga- 
tion, which is still going on.^ 

Of that process the myth-theory is simply the attempted 
scientific consummation. It is resisted as every previous 
step was resisted, before and after Middleton, partly in 
sincere religious conviction, partly on the simple in- 
stinctive resentment felt for every " upsetting " theory 
about matters which men have habitually taken for 
granted. Some of the best reasoned resistance comes 
from professional theologians who have been discipHned 
by the habit of exact argument in the documentary field ; 
some of the worst, as we have seen, comes from professed 
rationalists or Neo -Unitarians, who bring to the problem 
first and last the temper of spleen and bluster which 
history associates with the typical priest. Bluster 
never settles anything : argument, given free play under 
conditions which foster the intellectual life, in the end 
settles everything, even for the emotionalists who worship 
their instincts. But as historical like physical science is 
a process of continuous expansion and reconsideration, 
there can in this contest be no " triumph " for anything 

1 Cp. Soltau, Das Fortleben des Heidentums in d. altckr. Kirche, 
1906 ; S.H.C. 67 sg., 101 sq. ; J. A. Farrer, Paganism and Christianity, 
R.P.A. rep. passim. 

2 C.M. 220 and note 2. Cp. W. J. Wilkins, Paganism in the Papal 
Church, 1901. 

3 Cp. Saint- Yves, Les Saints sitccesseurs des Dieux, 1907; J. Rendel 
Harris, The Dioscuri in the Christian Legends, 1903. 



222 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

but the principle of unending renewal of thought, which 
is but an aspect of the principle of life. Insofar as the 
solution now offered is inadequate, it will in due course 
be improved upon ; insofar as it is false, it will be ousted. 

The average cleric, of course, does not attempt con- 
futation. Realizing that it is prudent to avoid debate 
on such matters, he relies on the proved proclivity of 
** human nature " to beliefs which fall -in with habit, 
normal emotion, and normal religiosity ; and his faith is, 
practically speaking, not ill-grounded. A thesis which 
looks first and last to scientific truth is therefore not 
addressed to him. It is addressed to the more earnest 
of the laity and the clerisy — hardly to those indeed who 
hold, as an amiable curate once put it to me, that " in 
the providence of God" all heresy is short-lived; but 
to those who, caring for righteousness, do not on that 
score cast out the spirit of truth. Many such are honestly 
convinced that the teaching on which they have been 
taught to found their conceptions of goodness cannot be 
the accretion of a myth ; and many who acknowledge 
an abundance of myth in the documents are still insistent 
on elements of '' religious " truth which they find even 
in systematic forgeries. The coimtenance thus given by 
the more liberal and critical theologians to the more un- 
critical stands constantly in the way even of the accept- 
ance of the comparatively rational views of the former.^ 
There is reason then to ask whether the notion that 
human conduct is in any way dependent on visionary 
beliefs is any sounder than those beliefs themselves. 
On this head, something faUs to be said in conclusion. 

1 Compare Soltau's remarks on the hostility still shown to pro- 
fessional scholars who merely reject the Virgin Birth (work cited, p. 2), 
and the plea of Brandt for his piety {Die evangelische Oeschichte, Vor- 
wort). 



Chapter IX 

CONCLUSION 

Not only to the myth-theory but to every attempt at 
ejecting historical falsity from religion there has been 
offered the objection that religion '' does good " ; that 
mankind needs " some religion or other " ; and that to 
" undermine faith " does social harm, even if it be by way 
of driving out delusion. This position is not at all special 
to orthodoxy. It was taken up by Middleton; by 
Kant J when he shaped a " practical " basis for theistic 
belief after eliminating the theoretic, and counselled 
unbelieving clergymen to use the Bible for purposes of 
popular moral education ; by Voltaire when he combated 
atheism after bombarding Christianity ; and by Paine when 
he wrote his Age of Reason to save the belief in God. 
Insofar as the general plea merely amounts to saying 
that mankind cannot conceivably give up its traditional 
religion at a stroke; that liberal-minded priests are 
better than illiberal, for aU purposes ; and that in a world 
dominated by economic need it is impossible for many 
enlightened clergymen to secure a living save in the 
profession for which they were trained, I am not at all 
concerned to combat it. For the liberal priest, en- 
lightened too late to reshape his economic career, I have 
nothing but sympathy, provided that he in no way 
hampers the intellectual progress of others. Insofar, 
again, as the plea for " religion " is merely a plea for a 
word, or a thesis that all earnest conviction about life is 
religion, it is quite irrelevant to the present discussion. 

223 



224 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

The rationalists who feel they cannot face the world 
without the label of '* religion " for their theory of the 
cosmos and of conduct will be in the same position 
whether they believe in a "historical Jesus" or not; 
and those who must have a humanist " liturgy " of some 
sort in place of the ecclesiastical are apparently not troubled 
by problems of historicity. What we are concerned with 
is the notion that to deny the historicity of Jesus is 
somehow to imperil not only ethics but historical science. 

M. Loisy puts the last point in his suggestion, in 
criticism of Drews, that he who thinks to break down 
either all the traditional or the ''liberal" orthodoxies 
by denying the historic actuality of Jesus will find he has 
'' only furnished to their defenders the occasion to per- 
suade a certain not imcultivated public that the divinity 
of Christ, or at least the unique character of his personality, 
is as well guaranteed as the reality of his life and his 
death." ^ Had M. Loisy then forgotten that his own 
attempts to elide from the documents a number of details 
which he saw to be mythical have given occasion to the 
defenders of the faith to assure a not uncultivated public 
that the disintegration of the gospels destroyed all ground 
for belief in any part of them ? ^ 

We on this side of the Channel might meet such 
challenges, grounded on the susceptibilities of the 
" public," with the demand of our great humorist, Mr. 
Birrell : *' What, in the name of the Bodleian, has the 
general public got to do with literature ? The general 
public . . . has its intellectual, like its lacteal sustenance, 
sent round to it in carts." ^ 

^ Apropos d'histoire des religions, end. 

"^ Compare the recent volume of debate between Dr. Sanday and the 
Rev. N. P. Williams on Form and Content in the Christian Tradition. 
Mr. Williams argues against Dr. Sanday — who is less destructive in his 
criticism than M. Loisy — in this very fashion. 

^ Essay on Dr. Johnson (1884). 



CONCLUSION 225 



But we must not turn the jest to earnest. There are 
plenty of honest laymen to play the jury ; and to them 
let it be put. The issue between us and M. Loisy, as he 
virtually admits, must be fought out by argument. It 
is perfectly true, as he says, that " in principle, nothing 
is more legitimate, more necessary, than the comparative 
method ; but nothing is more delicate to handle." ^ Every 
issue, then, must be vigilantly debated. But the obligation 
is reciprocal. In these inquiries we have found M. Loisy 
many times in untenable positions, and resorting to incon- 
sistent arguments. The tests which he applies to a mass of 
tradition are equally destructive to most of what he retains. 

Let illicit employments of the comparative method 
be discredited by all means ; but let us also have done 
with a criticism which on one leaf claims that Jesus 
gave a *' homogeneous " teaching which his disciples 
could not have '' combined," and on the next avows that 
'' the gospel ethic is no more consistent than the hope of 
the kingdom." ^ And when the myth-theorists are called 
upon to make no unwarranted assumptions, let us also 
have an end of such assertions as that " twenty -five or 
thirty years after the death of Jesus the principal sen- 
tences and parables of which the apostolic generation had 
kept memory were put in writing." ^ This is pure 
hypothesis, unsupported by evidence. 

The issue between us and M. Loisy, once more, is not 
one in which merely he assails the myth-theory as out- 
going its proofs : it is one in which his positions are at the 
same time assailed all along the line, and particularly 
at its centre, as incapable of resisting critical pressure. 
By all means let us seek that " the science of religion 
should be apphed without preoccupations of contem- 
porary propaganda or polemic." The present writer 

^ Apropos d'histoire des religions, p. 320. 

2 Jesus et la trad. 4vang. pp. 286, 288. ^ j^^^ ^ 277. 

Q 



226 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

reached the myth-theory not by way of propaganda but 
as a result of sheer protracted failure to establish a 
presupposed historical foundation. Professor Smith dis- 
claims all criticism of ^" Christianity." And if Professor 
Drews be blamed for avowing a religious aim, the answer 
is that he would otherwise be assailed as '* irreligious/' 
alike in his own country and elsewhere. The myth-theory 
has to meet other foes than M. Loisy. 

It is remarkable that Professor Schmiedel, who has 
gone nearly as far as M. Loisy in recognizing in detail the 
force of the pressures on the historical position, makes the 
avowal : " My inmost religious convictions would suffer 
no harm, even if I now felt obliged to conclude that Jesus 
never lived,"' ^ though as a critical historian he " sees no 
prospect of this." He further avows that his religion 
does not require him " to find in Jesus an absolutely 
perfect model," and that in effect he does not find him so.^ 
And he wrote in 1906 that " for about six years the view 
that Jesus never really lived has gained an ever-growing 
number of supporters," ^ adding that "it is no use to 
ignore it, or to frame resolutions against it." It is 
accordingly with no kind of polemic motive as against 
so entirely candid a writer that I suggest certain criticisms 
of his emotional positions as tending unconsciously to 
affect his judgment of the critical problem. 

It is after the avowals above cited that he writes : — ^ 

Nor do I ask whether in Jesus' faith and ethical system 
what he had to offer was new. Was it able to give me some- 
thing that would warm my heart and strengthen my life ? — 
that is all I ask. What does it matter if one of the ideas 
of Jesus had been expressed once already in India, an- 
other once already in Greece, a third once already, or 
many times, by the Old Testament prophets, or by the 
much-praised Jewish Rabbis shortly before the time of 

^ Jesus in Modem Criticism, p. 85. ^ Id. p. 86. 

s Id. p. 12. * Id. p. 87. 



CONCLUSION 227 



Jesus ?. Such ideas may be found in books : that is all. 
What we ought to feel grateful to Jesus for, is that he 
was destined for the first time to make the ideas take effect 
and influence the lives of mankind in general. 

It would, I think, be difficult to over-estimate the 

amount of psychic bias involved in that pronouncement, 

which contains a theorem no more fitly to be taken for 

granted than any concrete historic proposition. The 

Professor, it will be observed, does not .specify a single 

teaching of Jesus as new, while admitting that some were 

not. What he says is, in effect, that other utterances 

of Jesuine doctrines do not *' warm the heart " ; that 

those of Jesus do; and that they "for the first time " 

caused certain doctrines to " take effect and influence 

the lives of mankind in general." What doctrines then 

are meant, and what effects are posited ? And why do 

other utterances of the doctrines not " warm the heart " ? 

Presumably the doctrines in question are those of 

mutual love, of forgiveness of enemies, of doing as we 

would be done by. Concerning the gospel doctrine of 

reward the Professor makes a disclaimer ; and concerning 

the doctrine that God cares for men as for the lilies and 

the birds he pronounces that it is *' to-day not merely 

untrue : it is not even religious in the deepest sense of 

the term." ^ It is not then clear that he would acclaim 

the doctrine that to help the distressed is to succour the 

Lord. In any case, the detailed religious prescription of 

beneficence was not merely a Jewish maxim : it was an 

article of Egyptian religion ; ^ and it can hardly be in 

respect of such teaching that the Professor affirms a new 

" influence on the lives of mankind in general." 

Is it then in respect of mutual love and the forgiveness 
of enemies ? If so, when did the change begin ? Among 
the apostles ? Among the Fathers ? Among the bishops ? 

^ Jesus in Modem Criticism, pp. 79-81. ^ CM. 392. 



228 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

Among the Popes ? To put the issue broadly, was there 
more of good human life in Byzantium than in pagan 
Greece ; or even in the Rome of the Decadence and the 
Dark and Middle Ages than in the Rome of the Republic ? 
Was it because of Christian goodness that the decline of 
Rome was accelerated instead of being checked ? And, 
to come to our own day, is the World War an evidence 
for an ethical change wrought by the teaching of Jesus — 
a war forced on the world by a Germany where there are 
more systematic students of the gospels than in all the 
rest of Europe ? I leave it to Professor Schmiedel and 
Professor Drews to settle the point between them. They 
would perhaps agree — though as to this I am uncertain — 
on the Jesuine doctrine that morality is ' ' nothing more 
than obedience to the will of God "; and that *' every 
deed is to be judged by the standard, Will it bear the 
gaze of God ? " ^ In any case I will affirm, for the con- 
sideration of those who on any such ground cling to the 
notion of something tmique in the teaching of Jesus, that 
humanity is likely to make a much better world when 
it substitutes for such a moral standard, which is but a 
self-deluding substitution of God for the conscience that 
delimits God, the principle of goodwill towards men, 
and the law of reciprocity, articulately known to the mass 
of mankind millenniums before the Christian era, and all 
along disobeyed, then as now, partly because religious 
codes intervene between it and life.^ 

If it be admitted— and who will considerately deny it ? 
— that the moral progress of mankind is made in virtue 
of recognition of the law of reciprocity, the case for the 
general moral influence of Christianity is disposed of, 

1 CM. p. 90. 

2 So far as I am aware, the only explicit condemnation passed in 
the German Reichstag on the German submarine policy has been 
delivered by the Socialist Adolf Hoffmann, a professed Freethinker. 
He pronounced it " shameful," and was duly called to order. 



CONCLUSION 229 



once for all. If the affirmation be still made, let it con- 
front the challenge of rational sociology/ founded on the 
survey of all history — and the World War. Professor 
Schmiedel's large affirmation is vain in the face of aU that. 
His real psychic basis, which in my judgment determines 
his critical presuppositions, lies in the phrase : '' warms 
my heart." And that phrase is a tacit confession of 
religious partisanship, the result of his Christian training.^ 
The more the moral teaching of the gospels is com- 
paratively studied, as apart from their myths of action 
and dogma, the more clear becomes its entire dependence 
on previous lore,^ and its failure even to maintain the 
level of the best of that. The Sermon on the Mount is 
wholly pre-Christian.* It is a Christian scholar who 
points out that the Christian doctrine of forgiveness is 
fuUy set forth in the Testaments of the Twelve Patei- 
ARCHS, a century before the Christian era. In his view, 
those verses ^ '' contain the most remarkable statement 
on the subject of forgiveness in all ancient literature." ^ 
Why then does it not warm the heart of Professor 
Schmiedel equally with the doctrine of the gospels ? 
Simply because he was brought up to assign pre-eminence 
to the teaching of Jesus — God or Man. And here we have, 
in its fundamental form, that unchecked assumption of 
'' uniqueness " which secretly dictates the bulk of the 
denials of the myth-theory. Canon Charles explicitly 
traces the Jesuine teaching to the verses in question : 

That our Lord was acquainted with them, and that 
His teaching presupposes them, we must infer from the 
fact that the parallel is so perfect in thought and so close 
in diction between them and Luke xvii, 3 ; Matt, xvii, 

1 I have briefly put the case in pref. to S.H.C. 

2 Dr. Rendel Harris, on the other hand, in effect avows that his 
heart is warmed by fictitious " Odea of Solomon," in which the writer 
puts imaginary language in the mouth of the Christ. 

3 See J. McCabe, Sources of the Morality of the Gospels, R.P.A., 1914. 
* CM. 403 sq. ^ Test. Gad, vi, 1-7. b Canon Charles, m Zoc. 



230 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

15.^ The meaning of forgiveness in both cases is the 
highest and noblest known to us. . . . 

One puts with diflfidence the challenge. Was it then 
high and noble for the Teacher to give out as his own the 
teaching of another, instead of acknowledging it ? Is it 
not incomparably more likely, on every aspect of the 
case, that the older teaching was thus appropriated by 
gospel-makers bent at once on giving the Divine One a 
high message and on securing acceptance for it by putting 
it in his mouth ? Is not this the strict critical verdict, 
apart from any other issue ? 

The bias which balks at such a decision is the sign of 
the harm done to intellectual ethic by the inculcated 
presupposition. It ought to " warm the heart " of a 
good man to realize that the ideas which he has been 
taught to think the noblest were not the '' unique " pro- 
duction of a Superman, but could be and were reached 
by Jews and Gentiles — for they are Gentile also — whose 
very names are unknown to us. A doctrine of forgiveness 
arose in prostrate Jewry precisely because rancour had 
there reached its maximum. As a doctrine of asceticism 
rises in a society where license has been at the extreme, 
so the phenomena of hate breed a recoil from that. The 
doctrine of non-resistance was current among the Phari- 
sees of the period of the Maccabean revolt; and the 
Testaments of the Patriarchs is the work of a Pharisee. 
And the gospels have nevertheless taught all Christians 
to regard the Pharisees collectively, with the Scribes, as a 
body devoid of all goodness. There is, be it said — not for 
the first time — a pessimism in the Christian conception of 
things ; a pessimism which denies the element of goodness 
in man in the very act of ascribing it as a specialty to OnCj 
and relying on his " influence " to spread it among men 

^ There are many such close parallels of thought and diction between 
the two books. Seo Canon Charles's introduction, § 26. 



CONCLUSION 231 



incapable of rising to it for themselves. The story of 
Lycurgus and Alcander is the best ancient example to the 
precept, quite transcending that of the good Samaritan/ 
and it is one of the antidotes to the Christian pessimism 
which stultifies its own parable by denying in effect that 
The Samaritan could thinh as ethically as The Jew. 

It is pessimism, yet again, that accepts the verdict : 
" Christianity is the truth of humanity." ^ Were it not 
that Dr. Schmiedel endorses it, I should have been 
inclined to use a stronger term. This too is myth-making. 
It would be strange indeed if any depth of truth were 
sounded by men who had not the first elements of a con- 
science for truth of statement, truth of history : whose 
very notion of truth was a production of fiction. The 
'' truth of humanity " is something infinitely wider than 
the structure raised by the " prophets " and *' apostles " 
of the Jesus-cult, out of pre-existing materials, some two 
thousand years ago ; and humanity will outlive that 
presentment of its cosmos and its destinies as it has out- 
lived others. If it should carry something of the one 
with it, so does it from the others — even as the one drew 
from its predecessors ; and it wiU certainly jettison more 
than it will keep. I have not noted in the Testaments of 
THE Patriarchs any such nullification of its doctrine of 
forgiveness as is embodied in the promise of future 
perdition for Chorazin and Bethsaida, or in the story of 
Ananias and Sapphira, to say nothing of the Jesuine 
doctrine of future torment. The hate that breathes in 
''Ye brood of vipers"; in the continual malediction 

^ In The Historical Jesus, pp. 23-26, I had to point out how two 
Doctors of Divinity, of high pretensions, had scornfully denied that that 
story had ever been transcended, and how signally they erred. The 
second, the Kev. Dr. T. J. Thorbtim, has since produced another work, 
V in which the subject is carefully ignored. When theologians thus exhibit 
themselves as morally colour-blind, they relieve us of the necessity of 
proving at any length how congenitally incompetent they are to determine 
the moral problems of sociology by the authority they presume to flaunt. 

2 Schmiedel, Jesus, end. 



232 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

against Scribes and Pharisees as universally hypocrites, 
'' sons of Gehenna," making their proselytes twice as bad 
as themselves; and in the Johannine *' your father the 
devil " — all these are " Christian " specialties, turning to 
naught the Jewish precept of forgiveness. 

And I can '' see no prospect " of a long currency for 
Professor Schmiedel's panegyric of fictitious sayings in 
Acts ^ as "of the deepest that can be said about the 
inner Christian life." If that be so, what amount of 
profundity goes to the whole construction of the faith ? 
How long is it to be maintained that the secret or inspira- 
tion of good life lies in the ideas of men for whom the 
framing of false history was a pious occupation ? The 
main ethical content of the Christian system, the moral 
doctrine by which the Church has lived down till the 
other day, is the ethic-defying doctrine of the redemption 
of mankind by a blood sacrifice — a survival of immemorial 
savagery. That is still the specifically " evangelical " 
view of Christianity. After living by the doctrine 
through two eras, the slowly civilizing conscience of the 
Church has itself begun to repudiate it ; and we have the 
characteristic spectacle of its defenders declaring that 
the very terms of the historic creed form a libel framed 
by its enemies. Taught at last by human reason that the 
doctrine of sacrifice is the negation of morality, they 
pretend that that doctrine is not Christian. Without 
it, their Church would never have taken its historic form. 
To eliminate it, they have to suppress half their literature, 
prose and verse. The accommodations by which the 
fundamental immorality has been modified in the interests 
of saner morality are but the dictates of human experi- 
ence ; and these dictates are in turn pretended to be the 
revelation of the faith that flouted them. 

1 Art. Acts in Encyc. Bib., citing iv, 20; xiv, 22; xx, 24; xxi, 13; 
xxiv, 16. 



CONCLUSION 233 



Unless the world is again to retrogress collectively 
in its civilization, this polemic will not long avail to 
obscure historic issues. It is not merely the '' rehgion " 
of Professor Drews, it is the emancipated human reason, 
that denies the mortmain of ancient Syria over the field 
of ethical thought, and claims the birthright of modem 
man in his own moral law. Not one day has passed since 
the penning of the Apocaljrpse without men's hating each 
other in the name of Jesus. Wars generations long have 
been waged for interpretations of the lore. Hatred and 
malice and all uncharitableness stamp all the Sacred 
Books ; and the literature of the Fathers imports into the 
dwindling intellectual life of the West all the rancour of 
battling Judaism. In our own day, Professor Schmiedel 
is malignantly assailed in the name of the divinity of the 
figure of which he claims to prove the exemplary humanity, 
his reasoned argument winning him no goodwill from the 
supematuralists. And around him there figure virulent 
partisans, incapable of his candour, so little capable of love 
for enemies that they cannot conduct a debate without 
passion, perversion and insolence. A multitude of those 
who acclaim the gospel Jesus as the supreme Teacher reveal 
themselves as below the standards of normal candour. 

From such pretenders to moral authority, the seeker 
for truth turns to the layman similarly concerned, and to 
those professional scholars who are capable of debating 
without passion, and in good faith. Professor Schmiedel 
and M. Loisy are still, it is to be hoped, types of many. 
The problem is in the end, unalterably, one of historical 
science ; and only by the use of all the methods of sound 
historical science will it ever be solved. 

It is not merely in regard to the study of Christian 
origins that sociological problems are vitiated by the 
habitual passing of a priori judgments on issues never 
critically considered. When an expert hierologist like 



234 THE JESUS PROBLEM 

Dr. Budge tells us repeatedly that in ancient Egypt a 
"highly spiritual/' "lofty spiritual" and "elevated" 
religion went hand in hand with a system of sorcery of 
" degrading " savagery,^ we are led to inquire how the 
estimates of altitude are reached or justified. There 
appears to be no answer save that Dr. Budge holds 
certain theories about the universe, and, finding these 
more or less akin to the esoteric theology of Egypt, laurels 
his own opinions in this fashion. But Dr. Budge is no 
more entitled than any one else to settle such questiojis 
without rational discussion, and the reason of some of 
us revolts at the concept of a conjoined sublimity and 
imbecility as a spurious paradox. It is but a convention 
of . supematuralist apriorism, figuring where it has no 
right of entry. ' In precisely the same fashion. Dr. Estlin 
Carpenter credits to the Aztecs a " lofty religious senti- 
ment," avowed to be " strangely blended with a hideous 
and sanguinary ritual." ^ The " lofty " is again a wreath 
for the writer's own philosophy of religion, in terms of 
which the act of the " good Samaritan," performed a 
million times by unpretending human beings, was 
imaginable only by a supernormal Jew, and unmatchable 
in pagan thought. 

In a word, these moral pretensions had better be with- 
drawn from the area of historical discussion proper. 
Involving as they do the inference that " lofty " religious 
conceptions are not merely of no moral value but potent 
sanctions for all manner of evil, they very effectually 
stultify themselves. But rationalism needs not, and 
should not seek, to turn such blunders to its account. 
As M. Loisy claims, the groimd of historic criticism is 
not the place for such polemic, which tends only to con- 
fuse the scientific issue. That is hard enough to solve, 
with the best will and the best methods. 

1 Egyptian Magic, 1899, pref. ^ Comparative Religion^ 1912, p. 67. 



Appendix A 

THE '' TEACHING OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES " 

{Nov. 1 and 8, 1891.) 

[The following is a revised translation of the Atdaxfj 
rcbv ddidsKa anooxolcDV, discovered by Philotheos Bryen- 
nios, Metropolitan of Nicomedia (then of Serres), in 1873, 
in the library attached to the Monastery of the Most 
Holy Sepulchre, in the Phanar, or Greek quarter, of Con- 
stantinople. It was part of a manuscript containing several 
ancient documents, including two Epistles of Clement of 
Rome, which Bryennios published in 1875. Not till 1883 
did he publish the Didache. 

Of the genuineness of the MS. there can be no reason- 
able doubt. That there was current in the early Church 
a " Teaching of the Twelve Apostles " appears from 
Eusebius {H, E. iii, 25) and Athanasius (Festal Epistle 39, 
c.E. 367). There were very good reasons why the Church, 
as time went on, should desire to drop the Teaching 
from her current literature. It is obviously in origin a 
purely Jewish document, and the first six chapters show 
no trace of Jesuism. We have already stated the reasons 
for concluding that the primary *' Teaching " was the 
official doctrine of the twelve Jewish appstles of the High 
Priest to the Jews dispersed through the Roman Empire ; 
that the Gospels borrowed from it, and not the converse ; 
that Judaic Jesuists adopted it, and gradually inter- 
polated it; and that it is the real foundation of the 
legend of the twelve Jesuist apostles. The sub-title : 
*' Teaching of [the] Lord through the Twelve Apostles 
to the Nations " may have been the original. " Lord " 
here has the force of " God." 

On a first study, we found reasons ^ for deciding that the 

1 Set forth in the National Reformer, May 15, 1887. Barnabas in 
effect avows that he is copying previous teaching. 

235 



236 APPENDIX A 



Epistle of Barnabas, which in part closely coincides with 
the *' Teaching," borrows from it, and not the converse. 
That view, though naturally opposed by many orthodox 
scholars, who want to date the Teaching as late as pos- 
sible, was from the first, we find, put by Farrar and by 
Zahn, and is convincingly maintained by the American 
editors, though of course they take the conventional 
view that the document is of Christian origin. Yet its 
Grseco -Jewish origin, we feel certain, will be plain to 
every open-minded reader at the first perusal. That 
view was maintained by the Rev. Dr. C. Taylor, of St. 
John's College, Cambridge, in two lectures given at the 
Royal Institution in 1886; and it has been accepted by 
Dr. Salmon in his Introduction to the Study of the New 
Testament. It was admitted to be probable by the 
Rev. A. Gordon, in the Modern Review, July, 1884, but 
rejected by the American editors (1885). 

We have followed, with but few serious variations, 
the translation of the American editors, Professors 
Hitchcock and Brown, which, on careful comparison, we 
find to be the most faithful. Reasons for the main 
variations are given in the notes. Of the elucidatory 
notes, some are borrowed (with additions) from the 
American and French editions. The English student 
may refer to the edition of Professors Hitchcock and 
Brown, or to that of Canon Spence (1885), for the 
literature of the matter. Needless to say, the clerical 
reasoning on the matter must be viewed with constant 
caution.] 

Teaching of the Twelve Apostles 

Teaching of [the] Lobd, through the Twelve Apostles, 
to the nations ^ 

Chap. I. — Two ways there are, one of life and one of death, 
and great is the difference between the two ways.^ The 

^ There are two titles. It is surmised, with good reason, that this 
was the original, though Mr. Gordon argues that it may be Sabellian, 
and of the third or fourth century. The '* Lord " (the name is here 
used without the article, which was normally used in Christian writings) 
refers to the God of the Jews, not to Jesus. 

2 A pagan as well as a Jewish commonplace. Cp. Jeremiah xxi, 8; 
Hesiod, Works and Days, 286 aq. ; Xenophon, Memorabilia, ii, 1 ; 



APPENDIX A 237 



way of life, then, is this : First, thou shalt love the God who 
made thee ; secondly, thy neighbour as thyself ; ^ and all 
things whatsoever thou wouldest not have befall thee, thou, 
too, do not to another. 2 And of these words the teaching is 
this : Bless them that curse you, and pray for your enemies, 
and fast for them that persecute you ; ^ for what thank [have 
ye] if ye love them that love you ? Do not foreigners * do 
the same ? But love ye them that hate you and ye shall 
have no enemy. Abstain from the fleshly and worldly lusts. ^ 
If any one give thee a blow on the right cheek, turn to him 
the other also, and thou shalt be perfect ; ^ if any one compel 
thee to go one nule, go with him twain ; if any one take thy 
cloak, give him thy tunic also ; i£ any one take from thee 
what is thine, ask it not back; for indeed thou canst not.' 
To every one that asketh thee give, and ask not back; for 
to all the Father desireth to have given of his own free gifts.® 
Blessed is he that giveth according to the commandment; 

Persius, Sat. iii, 56. Persius followed Pythagoras, who taught that 
the ways of virtue and vice were like the thin and thick lines of the 
letter Y. This is the origin of the Christian formula of the broad and 
the narrow path. The conception of " the right way " is found among 
the ancient Persians. Meyer, Qeschichte dea AUerth/umSf i, 539 (§ 448). 

1 Cp. Levit. xix, 18; Matt, xxii, 37-39. 

2 Cp. Tobit iv, 15; Matt, vii, 12. Hillel (Talmud, Sabbath, 306) 
puts the rule, as here, in the sane negative form, which is also the 
Chinese. The gospel form is less rational. The sentiment is the first 
principle of morals, and is common to all religions and all races. 

» Cp. Matt, v, 44; Prov. xxv, 21; Talmud refs. in CM. 406; and 
Test, of Twelve Pair. Dan. iii, iv; Gad, iii— vi. Canon Spence notes 
that the resemblance between the Testaments and the Didachi is " very 
marked." Note that in the Revised Version the text in Matthew is 
cut down — a recognition of tampering, in imitation of Luke vi, 27-8. 

* Gr. "the nations " = " the Gentiles." Here, as elsewhere, we 
render by an English idiom, which gives the real force of the original. 
It will be observed that the compilers of the first gospel (v, 46) sub- 
stitute " tax-gatherers " for the original, by way of applying the 
discourse to Jews in Palestine, where the tax-gatherers represented 
foreign oppression. 

s A probable interpolation. 

« Cp. Lament, iii, 30, and the pagan parallels cited by Mr. McCabe, 
Sources of Mor. of Gospels, pp. 229, 231. 

' This clause, which is not in Matthew, is intelligible only as an 
exhortation to Jews in foreign lands. The reference to 1 Cor. vi, 1, 
cannot make it plausible as a Christian utterance. 

8 This is otherwise translated by the Rev. Mr. Heron, Church of the 
Sub'ApostoUc Age, p. 16, thus : " the Father wisheth men to give to 
all from their private portion " ; and by Dr. Taylor, Teaching, 1886, 
p. 122, thus : " the Father wills that to all men there be given of our 
own free gifts." 



238 APPENDIX A 



for he is guiltless ; woe to him that receiveth ; ^ for if, 
indeed, one receiveth who hath need, he shall be guiltless; 
but he who hath no need shall give account, why he took, 
and for what purpose, and coming under confinement,^ shall 
be examined concerning what he did, and shall not go out 
thence until he pay the last farthing. And it hath also been 
said concerning this : Let thine alms sweat in thy hands, 
until thou knowest to whom thou shouldst give.^ 

Chap. II. — And a second commandment of the teaching is : 
Thou shalt not kill, nor commit adultery, nor corrupt boys, 
not commit fornication, nor steal, nor do magic, nor use 
sorcery, nor slay a child by abortion, nor destroy what is con- 
ceived. Thou shalt not lust after the things of thy neighbour, 
nor forswear thyself, nor bear false witness, nor revile, nor 
be revengeful, nor be double-minded or double-tongued; for 
a snare of death is the double tongue. Thy speech shall not 
be false, nor empty, but filled with doing. Thou shalt not be 
covetous, nor rapacious, nor a hypocrite, nor malicious, nor 
arrogant. Thou shalt not take evil counsel against thy 
neighbour. Thou shalt hate no man, but some thou shalt 
reprove, and for some thou shalt pray, and some thou shalt 
love above thy life. 

Chap. III. — My child, flee from every evil thing, and from 
everything like it. Be not wrathful, for anger leadeth to 
murder ; * nor a zealot, ^ nor contentious, nor passionate ; 

* Cp. Acts XX, 35. That passage probably derives from this, and 
loses point in the transference. 

^ Mr. Heron renders this " under discipline," because the early 
Church had no prison for its backsliders. Quite so. The reference 
is to Pagan prisons, and the warning is to Jewish beggars. The 
Greek phrase, iv <rvvoxv, here clearly refers to a prison, though in 
Luke xxi, 25, it is rendered " distress " and in 2 Cor. ii, 4, " anguish." 
Cp. Josephus, 8 Ant. iii, 2. Canon Spence, who translates " being in 
sore straits," offers the alternative " coming under arrest." 

^ Cp. Ecclesiasticus, xii, 1 sq. It will be observed that the con- 
cluding clause modifies the earlier precept of indiscriminate giving. 
It may be an addition. 

* A more developed teaching is found in the Testaments of the 
Patriarchsj as above cited, 

^ GrT. (i)\(ar^s. The American editors translate this "jealous"; but 
Mr. Heron and Dr. Taylor more faithfully render it " a zealot," though 
this, a natural warning to Jews, would come oddly to Christians. 
*' Zealot " specified a fanatical Jewish type (Luke vi, 15; Acts i, 13; 
xxi, 20), but the Jesuists were exhorted to be " zealous " (same word) 
in 1 Cor. xiv, 12; Tit. ii, 14. Nowhere are Christian "zealots" 
rebuked; but Jewish fanatics in foreign lands needed warning from 
peace-loving teachers. On the other hand, the rendering " jealous " 
is evidently adopted because of the very difficulty of conceiving that 



APPENDIX A 239 



for of all these murders are begotten. My child, become not 
lustful; for lust leadeth to fornication; nor foul-mouthed, 
nor bold of gaze ; ^ for of all these things adulteries are 
begotten. My child, become not an omen- watcher ; ^ since 
it leadeth into idolatry ; nor an enchanter, nor an astrologer, 
nor a purifier,^ nor be willing to look upon these things; for 
of all these things idolatry is begotten. My child, become 
not a liar; since lying leadeth to theft; nor avaricious, nor 
vain-glorious; for of all these things thefts are begotten. 
My child, become not a murmurer; since it leadeth to blas- 
phemy; nor self-willed, nor evil-minded; for of all these 
things blasphemies are begotten. But be meek, since the 
meek shall inherit the earth.* Become long-suffering and 
merciful and guileless and gentle and good, and tremble 
continually at the words which thou hast heard. Thou shalt 
not exalt thyself, nor allow over-boldness to thy soul. Thy soul 
shall not cleave to the great, ^ but with the righteous and lowly 
thou shalt consort. The experiences that befall thee shalt thou 
accept as good, knowing that without God nothing happeneth. 
Chap. IV. — ^My child, him that speaketh to thee the word of 
God thou shalt remember night and day,^ and honour him as 
[the] Lord ; for where that which pertaineth to the Lord ' is 
spoken there [the] Lord is. And thou shalt seek out daily 
the faces of th^ saints, that thou mayest be refreshed by their 
words. Thou shalt not desire division, but shall make peace 
between those who contend; thou shalt judge justly; thou 
shalt not respect persons in reproving- for transgressions. 
Thou shalt not hesitate ^ whether it shall be or not. Be not . 
one who for receiving stretcheth out the hands, but for giving 

Christian teachers would warn their flocks against being either " zealous " 
or " zealots." The context, however, clearly justifies our translation. 

1 Gr. "high-eyed." The meaning evidently is "always looking at 
people," and there is implied the injunction to look down, as is the 
wont of nuns. Since deciding on the rendering given, we notice that 
the Rev. A. Gordon, in his translation (sold at Essex Hall, Essex 
Street), has " bold of eye." Dr. Taylor has " of high looks." 

2 Mr. Gordon has " a diviner from birds " ; M. Sabatier " aitgure " ; 
Dr. Taylor "given to augury." 

^ Mr. Gordon has " a fire lustrator." * Cp. Matt, v, 5. 

5 Gr, " the high " = the upper or ruling classes. ® Cp, Heb. xiii, 7. 

' Gr. 7} KvpiSTTjs. Messrs. Gordon and Heron render " whence 
the lordship is spoken " or " proclaimed." In the New Testament 
(Eph. i, 21; Col. i, 16; Jude viii; 2 Pet. ii, 10} the same word is 
rendered " dominion " by the Revisers. 

^ Mr. Gordon adds here " in praying " in brackets. This is a guess, 
which seems to have no warrant, though Canon Spence leans to it. 
The sentence connects with the preceding one. 



240 APPENDIX A 



draweth them in; if thou hast anything, by thy hands thou 
shalt give a ransom for thy sins.^ Thou shalt not hesitate to 
give, nor when giving shalt thou murmur, for thou shalt 
know who is the good dispenser of the recompense. Thou 
shalt not turn away from the needy, but shalt share all things 
with thy brother, and shalt not say they are thine own; for 
if ye are partners in that which is imperishable, how much 
more in the perishable things ? ^ Thou shalt npt take off thy 
hand from thy son and from thy daughter,^ but from youth 
shalt thou teach them the fear of God. Thou shalt not lay 
commands in thy bitterness upon thy slave or girl-slave, who 
hope in the same God, lest they perchance shall not fear the 
God over you both ; for he cometh not to call men according 
to the appearance, but to those whom the spirit hath pre- 
pared. Aiid ye, slaves, ye shall be subject to your lords, as 
to God's image,* in modesty and fear. Thou shalt hate 
every hypocrisy, and whatever is not pleasing to the Lord. 
Thou shalt by no means forsake [the] Lord's commandments, 
but shall keep what thou hast received, neither adding to it 
nor taking from it. In church thou shalt confess thy trans- 
gressions, and shalt not draw near for thy prayer with an evil 
conscience. This is the way of life. 

Chap. V. — But the way of death is this : First of all it is 
evil, and fuU of curse; murders, adulteries, lusts, fornica- 
tions, thefts, idolatries, magic arts, sorceries, robberies, false 
testimonies, hypocrisies, duplicity, guile, arrogance, malice, 
self-will, greed, foul speech, jealousy,^ over-boldness, haughti- 
ness, boasting; persecutors of the good, hating truth, loving 
falsehood, knowing not the reward of righteousness, not 
cleaving to that which is good nor to righteous judgment, on 
the watch not for good but for evil ; far from whom are meek- 
ness and patience ; loving vanities, seeking reward,® not pitying 
a poor man, not grieving with one ^ in distress, not knowing 

1 Cp. Dan. iv, 27 ; Test. Pair. Zabulon, viii. 

'^ Cp. Acts iv, 32. Here we seem to have the hint for the legend. 

3 Cp. Prov. xiii, 24; xxii, 15; xxiii, 13-14; xxix, 17; Ecclus. 
vii, 23-4; xxx, 1-2. A common Jewish sentiment, not found in the 
New Testament. Cp. Eph. vi, 4. 

* Or type. Here, as in the New Testament, there is not the faintest 
pretence of impugning slavery. The resistance to that began among 
Pagans, not among Jews or Christians. 

^ Gr. ^7?A.oTU7r/a. This is the normal Greek word for jealousy. Here, 
however, Mr. Heron has "envy," perhaps rightly. 

* The American editors have *' pursuing revenge." 

' So Mr. Heron, we think rightly. M. Sabatier agrees. The 
American editors have '* toiling for," and Mr. Gordon " labouring for." 



APPENDIX A 241 



him that made them, murderers of children, destroyers of 
God's image,^ turning away from the needy, oppressing the 
afflicted, advocates of the rich, lawless judges of the poor, 
universal sinners; may ye be delivered, children, from all 
these. 

Chap. VI. — See that no one lead thee astray from this way 
of the teaching, because apart from God doth he teach thee. 
For if thou art able to bear the whole yoke of the Lord, thou 
shalt be perfect ; but if thou art not able, what thou art able 
that do. And concerning food, what thou art able, bear; 
but of that offered to idols, beware exceedingly; for it is a 
worship of dead Gods. 

[It will be observed that while there is a very marked 
transition after eh. vi, a division may be held to 
begin after eh. v. In this connection may be noted an 
interesting fact, brought out by the Rev. A. Gordon in 
his examination of the DidacM. Nicephoros of Con- 
stantinople (fl. 750-820) knew of a certain Teaching of 
the Apostles, which he mentioned as containing 200 lines. 
Nicephoros also speaks of the combined lengths of the 
two Epistles of Clement as amounting to 2,600 lines. 
Now, in the Jerusalem MS., which is closely written, the 
Clemenjiine Epistles occupy only 1,200 lines, which 
woiild give for the DidacM, in the same writing, on the 
proportions mentioned by Nicephoros, only 92 lines, 
whereas it occupies 203. Mr. Gordon simply noted the 
fact as a difficulty. If however he had followed up his 
own observation that the DidacM shows a division after 
the fifth chapter, he would have found that the propor- 
tion of the first five sections to the rest is nearly as 86 
to 203 ; while with ch. vi we should have a stiU closer 
approximation — 88 to 203. We have here, then, a 
virtual proof that Nicephoros had before him only these 
first five or six chapters, and that the subsequent addi- 
tions were not to be found in all copies of the Teaching, 
The inference from the internal evidence is thus remark- 
ably confirmed. The original Teaching, once more, was 
a purely Jewish document, without even a mention of 
Jesus. 

It will be noted further that, while the first six chapters 

^ Or, handiwork. 



242 APPENDIX A 



contain no suggestion of anything beyond simple mono- 
theism and general ethics, and the sixth chapter ends 
with a warning against eating food offered to idols, the 
seventh suddenly plunges into a prescription of baptism, 
which introduces the formula of " the Father, the Son, 
and the Holy Spirit," and minutely provides for the 
manner of the ceremony. But the eighth chapter 
evidently connects directly with the sixth, a direction 
as to fasting following on the warning in that section 
against eating meat offered to idols. It is thus per- 
fectly clear that the entire Trinitarian section on baptism 
is an interpolation. In the eighth chapter, again, we 
have an interpolation of the words " as the Lord com- 
manded in his gospel." In O.M, (415 sq,) are set forth 
the weighty reasons for concluding that the Lord's 
prayer, which is lacking in Mark, and different in Luke, 
was a Jewish formula long before the Christian era. 

While the Christist interpolations are thus obvious 
after the sixth chapter, it is not here assumed that the 
first six chapters as they stand are a single original 
document. On the contrary, we are inclined to think 
that the scheme of the '* two ways " is itself a redaction 
of an original document which gave the first '* way " 
without preamble, the present preamble and the fifth 
chapter being inserted to give the dual form. On that 
view, the pre-Christian document may not have stopped 
with the sixth chapter, though the definitely Christian 
redaction begins with the seventh, as the document now 
stands . The Trinitarian seventh chapter was almost 
certainly one of the latest of the Christian additions. 
In the ninth, rules are laid down for the Eucharist with- 
out any allusion to the Godhead of Jesus, who is spoken 
of in Ebionitic terms as '' Jesus thy servant," though 
Jesus Christ is further on spoken of in more distinctly 
Christist terms. These are evidently further additions. 
In the tenth chapter the Ebionitic tone is resumed, Jesus 
being stiQ only " thy servant " ; while throughout the 
rest of the document there is much teaching that might 
have come from the Judaic apostles who propagated 
that of the earlier chapters. As to this, however, it is 
difficult to come to a definite conclusion. AU that is 



APPENDIX A 243 



certain is that the nucleus of the document was Judaic, 
and that the Christian tamperings were made at different 
stages, the earlier indicating the primary Ebionitic creed, 
in which Jesus was merely a holy man, no more God 
than any other " Anointed."] 

Chap. VII. — ^Now concerning baptism, thus baptise ye : 
having first uttered all these things, baptise into the name of 
the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living 
water. But if thou hast not living water,^ baptise in other 
water ; and if thou canst not in cold, [then] in warm. But if 
thou hast neither, pour water upon the head thrice,^ into the 
name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. But before the 
baptism let the baptiser and baptised fast, and whatever 
others can ; but the baptised thou shalt command to fast for 
one or two days before. 

Chap. VIII. — But let not your fastings be in common with 
the hypocrites ; for they fast on the second day of the week 
and on the fifth ; ^ but do ye fast during the fourth, and the 
preparation [day].^ Nor pray ye hke the hypocrites, but as 
the Lord ^ commanded in his gospel, thus pray : Our Father 
who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, 
thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth ; our daily bread 
give us to-day, and forgive us our debt as we also forgive our 
debtors, and bring us not into temptation, but deliver us 
from the evil; for thine is the power and the glory forever. 
Three times in the day pray ye thus. 

Chap. IX. — Now, concerning the Eucharist/ thus give 

^ Probably a river or the sea. Cp. Carpenter, Phases of Early 
Christianity f p. 244, citing the Canons of Hippolyttis. 

" The Syrian method, introduced into Europe after the Crusades. 

^ The Jews, at least the Pharisees, fasted on Monday and Thursday, 
the days of the ascent and descent of Moses to and from Sinai. 

* That is, Friday, called " the preparation *' (for the Sabbath) by 
the Jews. Mr. Heron notes that the •Christians fasted on Wednesdays 
and Fridays, but does not explain how a Christian document came to 
use the Jewish expression with no Christian qualification. 

^ After all the previous allusions to " the Lord " (without the article, 
save once in ch. iv and once in ch. vi) had plainly signified " God," 
we here have " the Lord " {with the article) suddenly used in a clearly 
Christian sense, to signify Jesus. The transition is flagrant. 

^ That is, in the original sense, thank-offering, as Mr. Gordon notes. 
Now, the sacrament, as instituted in the gospels, is not a thank-offering. 
It is evidently from the DidacM, or similar early lore, that the word 
comes to be used for the sacrament by the Fathers. It is never so 
used in the New Testament. 



244 APPENDIX A 



thanks : first, concerning the cup ; We thank thee, our 
Father, for the holy vine of David ^ thy servant, which thou 
hast made known to us through Jesus thy servant ; ^ to thee 
be the glory for ever. And concerning the broken [bread] : 
We thank thee, our Father, for the life and knowledge which 
thou hast made known to us through Jesus thy servant ; to 
thee be the glory for ever.^ Just as this broken [bread] was 
scattered over the MQs and having been gathered together 
became one, so let thy church be gathered from the ends of 
the earth into thy kingdom; for thine is the glory and the 
power through Jesus Christ forever.^ But let no one eat or 
drink of yom: Eucharist, except those baptised into the name 
of [the] Lord ; for in regard to this the Lord hath said : Give 
not that which is holy to the dogs.* 

Chap. X. — ^Now after ye are filled ^ thus do ye give thanks : 
We thank thee, holy Father, for thy holy name, which thou 
hast caused to dwell in our hearts, and for the knowledge and 
faith and immortality which thou hast made known to us 
through Jesus thy servant; to thee be the glory forever. 
Thou, Sovereign ^ Almighty, didst create all things for thy 
name's sake ; both food and drink thou didst give to men for 
enjoyment, that they might give thanks to thee; but to us 
thou hast graciously given spiritual food and drink and eternal 
life through thy servant. Before all things we thank thee 
that thou art mighty ; to thee be the glory for ever. Remem- 
ber, Lord, thy Church, to deliver it from every evil and to 
make it perfect in thy love, and gather it from the four winds, 
[it] the sanctified, into thy kingdom, which thou hast prepared 
for it; for thine is the power and the glory forever. Let 

^ As the American editors note, Clement of Alexandria {Quis Dives 
Salvetur, § 29) calls Jesus *' the vine of David." As Jesus is " the 
vine " in the fourth gospel, but not in the synoptics, we may surmise 
that the DidacM was ciorrent at Alexandria. 

^ Gr. 7raiS(fs. Canon Spence and Mr. Heron render "Son"; but 
this is not the normal word for son {vl6s), and the same term is used 
for David and Jesus. It is rendered "servant" in Acts iii, 13, 26; 
iv, 27, R.V. 

^ Gr. "in the ages." 

* Cp. Matt, vii, 6. There is no such application there. 

** Mr. Heron takes this to signify that the love-feast accompanied 
the Eucharist. But he notes, from Dr. Taylor, that the Jews had 
their chagigah before the Passover, in order that the latter might be 
eaten " after being filled." Mr. Gordon translates : " After the full 
reception." 

^ Gr. SeVirora. The American editors (who render it "Master") note 
that this word becomes rare in Christian literature towards the latter 
part of the second century. 



APPENDIX A 245 



grace come and let this world pass away. Hos-anna to the 
God 1 of David ! Whoever is holy, let him come, whoever is 
not, let him repent. Maranatha.^ Amen. But permit the 
prophets to give thanks as much as they wiQ. 

Chap. XI. — Now, whoever cometh and teacheth you all 
these things aforesaid, receive him; but if the teacher him- 
self tiKn aside and teach another teaching, so as to overthrow 
[this], do not hear him; but [if he teach] so as to promote 
righteousness and knowledge of [the] Lord, receive him as 
[the] Lord. Now in regard to the apostles and prophets, 
according to the ordinance of the Gospel, so do ye. And 
every apostle who cometh to you, let him be received as [the] 
Lord; but he shall not remain [except for?] one day; if, 
however, there be need, then the next [day] ; but if he remain 
three days, he is a false prophet.^ But when the apostle 
departeth, let him take nothing except bread enough till he 
lodge [again]; but if he ask money, he is a false prophet. 
And every prophet who speaketh in the spirit, ye shall not 
try nor judge; for every sin shall be forgiven, but' this sin 
shall not be forgiven.^ But not every one that speaketh in 
the spirit is a prophet ; but [only] if he have the ways of [the] 
Lord. So from their ways shall the false prophet and the 
prophet be known. And no prophet appointing a table ^ in 
the spirit, eateth of it, unless indeed he is a false prophet ; 
and every prophet who teacheth the truth, if he do not that 
which he teacheth, is a false prophet. But every prophet, 
tried, true, acting with a view to the mystery of the Church 
on earth,^ but not teaching [others] to do all that he himself 

1 So in the MS. Bryennios conjectures vl^ (Son) for 06y, but this 
does not justify the alteration of the text by several editors. 

2 A Syriac phrase meaning not, as is sometimes said, " The Lord 
cometh," but *' The Lord is come." It was presumably an ancient 
formula in the prayers hailing the rise of the sun. 

3 It is difficult to reconcile this arrangement with any of the New 
Testament data as to the practice of the Jesuist apostles. Cp. Canon 
Spence, p. 91, as to " the Jewish habit of wandering from place to 
place." 

* Cp. Mk, iii, 28-30; Matt, xii, 31; 1 Thess. v, 19, 20. 

^ The American editors have " a meal " ; Canon Spence '* a Love- 
Feast." See his note. And cp. Jevons, Introd, to Hist, of Religion 
p. 333, as to the Greek agyrtes, 

^ On this obscure passage Mr. Heron has a long note, which, however 
supplies little light. Dr. Taylor notes that a " cosmic mystery " [Gp, 
fivffr'hpiov KOfffiiKSv] is "the manifestation in the phenomenal world of 
a ' mystery of the upper world,' " citing the Zohar. Canon Spence 
suggests that the " table " connects with the " mystery." 



246 APPENDIX A 



doeth, shall not be judged among you ; for with God he hath 
his judgment; for so did the ancient prophets also. But 
whoever, in the spirit, saith : Give me money, or something 
else, ye shall not hear him ; but if for others in need he bids 
[you] give, let none judge him. 

Chap. XII. — And let every one that cometh in [the] Lord's 
name be received, but afterwards ye shaU test and know him ; 
for ye shall have understanding, right and left. If he who 
cometh is a wayfarer, help him as much as ye can; but he 
shall not remain with you, unless for two or three days, if 
there be necessity. But if he will take up his abode among 
you, being a craftsman, let him work and so eat; but if he 
have no craft, provide, according to your understanding ; that 
no idler live with you as a Christian. But if he wall not 
act according to this, he is a Christmonger ; ^ beware of 
such. 

Chap. XIII. — But every true prophet who will settle among 
you is worthy of his food. Likewise a true teacher, he also 
is worthy, hke the workman, of his food.^ Every firstfruit, 
then, of the produce of wine-press and threshing-floor, of 
oxen and of sheep, thou shalt take and give to the prophets ; 
for they are your high-priests. But if ye have no prophet, 
give [it] to the poor. If thou makest a baking of bread, take 
the first [of it] and give according to the commandment. In 
like manner when thou openest a jar of wine or oil, take the 
first [of it] and give to the prophets; and of money and 
clothing and every possession, take the first, as may seem 
right to thee, and give according to the commandment. 

Chap. XIV. — And on the Lord's-day of [the] Lord ^ being 
assembled, break bread, and give thanks, after confessing 
your transgressions, in order that your sacrifice may be pure. 
But any one that hath variance with his friend, let him not 
come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your 
sacrifice may not be defiled. Eor this is that which was 

^ Gr. xpio-TCjUiropi^s. Warnings of this kind are given in the Epistles 
of Barnabas, Ignatius, and Polycarp. See Canon Spence's note. 

2 Note the remarkable advance in the economic provision for the 
preacher, clearly a later item than ch. xi. 

3 Canon Spence rightly translates : "on the Lord's Lord's-day." 
This singular phrase is obscured by the American editors, who simply 
translate " the Lord's day." The Greek is KvpiaK^v Kvpiou, It is 
thus clear that the expression *' Lord's day " was in Pagan use, and 
that the phrase '* Lord's-day of [the] Lord " was an adaptation of the 
standing expression to either Jewish or Jesuist use. This chapter may 
have belonged to the pre-Christian document. There is no allusion 
to the crucifixion. 



APPENDIX A 247 



spoken by [the] Lord : ^ At every place and time, bring me a 
pure sacrifice; for a great king am I, saith [the] Lord, and 
my name is marvellous among the nations.^ 

Chap. XV. — ^Now elect for yom-selves bishops and deacons 
worthy of the Lord, men meek and not avaricious, and upright 
and proved ; for they, too, render you the service ^ of the 
prophets and the teachers. Therefore neglect them not ; for 
they are the ones who are honoured of you, together with the 
prophets and teachers. 

And reprove one another, not in anger, but in peace, as ye 
have [it] in the gospel ; and to every one who erreth against 
another, let no one speak, nor let him hear [anything] from 
you, until he repent. But your prayers and your alms and all 
your deeds so do ye, as ye have [it] in the gospel of our ^ Lord. 

Chap. XVI. — Watch for your life; let not your lamps be 
gone out, and let not your loins be loosed, but be ready ; for 
ye know not the hour in which our Lord cometh. But ye 
shall come together often, and seek the things which befit 
your souls ; for the whole time of your faith will not profit 
you, if ye be not made perfect in the last season. For in the 
last days the false prophets and the corruptors shall be multi- 
plied, and the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and love shall 
be turned into hate ; for when lawlessness increaseth they shall 
hate one another, and shall persecute and shall deHver up ; and 
then shall appear the world-deceiver as the Son of God,^ and 
shall do signs and wonders, and the earth shall be given unto 
his hands, and he shall commit iniquities which have never 
yet been done since the beginning. Then all created men 
shall come into the fire of trial, and many shall be made to 
stumble and shall perish. But they that endure in their faith 
shall be saved from under even this curse. And then shall 
appear the signs of truth ; first the sign of an opening ® in 
heaven, then the sign of a trumpet's voice, and thirdly, the 
resurrection of the dead ; yet not of all,' but as it hath been 
said : The Lord will come and all the saints with him. Then 
shall the world see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven. 

^ Here the reference is clearly to Yahweh. The dociiment cannot 
have been originally written with the same title used indifferently of 
Yahweh and Jesus. 

2 Mai. i, 11. 

3 Literally, " perform the liturgy " = "serve the (public) service.'' 
* Here we have the Christist expression. 

^ This may have been a Jesuist allusion to Bar Cochab, about the 
year 135. 

^ Or " outspreading." 

' An early support for the " Conditional Immortality Association." 



Appendix B 
THE MYTH OF SIMON MAGUS 



Two questions are raised under this heading — the 
question whether, as was argued by F, C. Baur, the 
** Simon Magus " of the '' Clementine Becognitions " and 
*' Homilies " is a mask-name for a polemic directed 
primarily at the Apostle Paul ; and the more funda- 
mental question whether the Simon Magus of the Acts 
is or is not a historical character. 

The reasons for holding Simon to be a mythical per- 
sonage (as apart from the reasons for supposing the 
Clementine Simon to be meant for Paul, and the story 
of the Acts to be a misconceiving adaptation of the 
Clementine narrative) are overwhelming. To begin with, 
Justin Martyr, a Samaritan born, expressly says ^ that 
almost all the Samaritans worshipped Simon. ^ This 
alone might dispose of the notion that the " Simonians " 
dated merely from the time of Paul and Peter. It is 
absurd to suppose that nearly aU the Samaritans, a 
people with old cults, could be converted within a century 
to a new Deity originating in one man. The cult must 
date further back than that. And that Justin, though 
of Samaritan birth, could widely misconceive the cults 
around him, is pretty clear from his famous blunder of 
finding his Simon Magus as Simo Sanctus in the Semo 
Sancus of Rome, the old Sabine counterpart of the 
Eastern Semo.^ 

For there is abundant evidence, to begin with, that a 

1 ApoL i, 26. 

2 If we could but trust the assertion of Origen in the next century 
{Agcdnst CeUus, vi, 11) that there were then no Simonians left, the 
presumption would be that they had been absorbed by another cult. 

3 Ovid, Fasti, vi, 213; Livy, viii, 20. 

248 



APPENDIX B 249 



name of which the basis is 8em is one of the oldest of 
Semitic God-names. We have the forms Shem, Sime-on, 
Sams-on, S(h)amas (the Babylonian name of the sun; 
Hebrew Shemesh), San-d-on, or Samdan ^ Semen and 
Sem, all plainly connected with a sun-myth. Shamas 
or Samas was an Assyrian Sun-God, the duplicate of 
Melkarth and Hercules. Samson or Simson or Shimshai 
( = the Sun-man), the Hebrew Sun-hero, is unquestion- 
ably a mere variant of that myth. Sand-on, also a Sun- 
God, is the same myth over again. Baal-Samen, " the 
Lord of Heaven," ^ is the same conception as Baal- 
Melkarth; Baal, " the Lord," a Sim-God himself as well 
as Supreme God, being joined with the Sun-God proper. 
The name Sem, again, is foimd as signifying Hercules, in 
conjunction with those of Harpocrates and the Egyptian 
Hermes,^ and is probably involved in the mythical 
queen-name Semiramis (Sammuramat), since she in one 
of the myths gets her name from Simmas, " keeper of 
the king's flocks," who rears her ^ — another form of the 
Sun-God, belike. Simeon, in the myth of the twelve 
tribes, is one of the twin -brethren, who in all mythologies 
are at bottom solar deities. The " on " means " great," 
as in Samson, Dagon, Solomon, etc.; ^ and the Dioscuri 
of the Greek and Roman myth were " the Great Twin 
Brethren." It was added to the name of the Samaritan 
God :fel filyon, " Great £l," « who is just the tl (singular 
of Elohim) of the Hebrews. But the name Shem itself 
means " the Lofty " ; ' and the name of the mythical 
ancestor of the Shemites is at bottom a God-name, just 
as are those of Noach, Abram, Jacob, andlsra-el. It 
may also, it appears, have had the significance of " red- 
shining." ^ And, last but not least, the same vocable 

1 Cory's Ancient Fragments, ed. 1876, p. 92; Lenormant's Chaldean 
fagic, Eng. tr., p. 131. 

2 Sanchoniathon, in Cory, as cited, p. 5. 

3 Eratosthenes' Canon of Theban Kings, in Coryas cited, pp, 139-141. 

* Diodorus Siculus, ii, 4. 

5 Bible Folk Lore, 1884, p. 45; cp. Steinthal on Samson, Eng. tr., 
with Goldziher, p. 408. 

* Movers, Die Phimizier, i, 558. 

7 Goldhizer, Hebrew Mythology, Eng. tr., p. 132; cp. Buttmann, 
Mythologus, 1828, i, 221, and Sanchoniathon, as above, 

8 Volkmar, Die Religion Jesu, 1857, p. 281. 



250 APPENDIX B 



also has the significance of "name," so that the Semites 
or sons of S(h)em were also '' the men with names " ^; 
and the Hebrew " Shem hemmaphorash " or Tetragram- 
maton was the name of four letters (lEUE = Yahweh) 
or " the peculiar name." ^ Lenormant declares ^ that 
this last tenet came from Chaldea, where '' they con- 
sidered the divine name, the Shem, as endowed with pro- 
perties so special and -individual that they succeeded in 
making of it a distinct person." But this idea of the 
sacredness of the God-name was one of the most preva- 
lent of ancient religious notions. It was still devoutly 
held by the Christian Origen, who argued^ that the 
Hebrew divine names must be held to because they 
alone were potent to conjure with. It appears in the 
Judaic Teaching of the Twelve Apostles in its 
Christianised form (c. x), in the passage of thanksgiving 
beginning, " We thank thee, holy Father, for thy holy 
name, which thou hast made to dwell in our hearts." In 
the Jewish Sepher Toledoth Jeschu, Jesus is made to 
do his magic works by virtue of the '' Shem hemma- 
phorash," the Tetragrammaton, of which he has furtively 
possessed himself. Thus could an ancient God-name 
retain its mysterious prestige even after the mystery- 
mongers (reversing the process imagined by Lenormant) 
had taken the name-quality out of it, and left only 
the word for ''name." In other ways it clung to the 
Jewish cult. It is highly -probable that the pre-eminent 
Jewish prayer, the '' Shema " (or the '' Shemoneh 
Esreh "), of which the name is explained away into 
insignificance, is an extremely ancient prayer to the 
Sun-God.^ Even this is sought to be connected with a * 
historical '' Simon." ^ And all the while the original God 
Sem survives in the Jewish mythology as '' Shamma-el," 
the Prince of Demons and angel of death, who has power 

1 Meyer, Oeschichte dea AlterthumSt 1884, i, 214 n. 

2 McClintock and Strong's Bib. Cycl. s. v. 

3 Chaldean Magic, Eng. tr., p. 44. 
^ Against Gelsus, v, 45. 

^ See ifc in McClintock and Strong's Gycl. a. v. ; cp. Schiirer, Jewish 
Nation in Time of Chriat^ Eng. tr., Div. it. Vol. ii, p. 83, where the 
prayer is given as the Shemoneh Esreh. 

« Schiirer, p. 88. 



APPENDIX B 251 



over all peoples except the Jews ; ^ and at the same time 
in the legend of Samu-el, the unshorn, the child of the 
heretofore sterile mother (vexed by her rival as Rachel 
by Leah), the potentate who makes and unmakes kings, 
and who is called up as a '' God " ^ from the earth by 
incantation. 

But all this connects decisively with Samaria. It is 
not improbable that the name Samaria itself was derived 
from the name of the Sun-God, it being very much more 
likely that the mountain would be named from the God 
who was worshipped on it than from a man Shemer.^ 
The last is obviously a worthless gloss. A reasonable 
alternative view is that as the God-name Asshur is identi- 
fied with the name of the Assyrian country and people, 
whether giving or following their race-name, so the 
Semitic God-name Shem is bound up with the name 
Samaria, as that of Athene with Athens. It is at all 
events clear that, as is claimed by Volkmar,"* Sem or 
Simon was the chief God of the Samaritans. They 
declared to Antiochus, according to Josephus,^ that their 
temple on Mount Gerizim had no name, but was that 
of " the greatest God " ; and this squares with the other 
evidence, whether or not it be true that they offered, as 
Josephus states, to dedicate the temple to Zeus of the 
Hellenes, For, S(h)em being '' the high," Sem-on would 
be the Great High One or Greatest God, just as El 
!&lyon was the great El, the Great Power, Greatest of 
Powers. And as Sem-on was also the Great Name, the 
God was in that sense without a name, which circumstance 
is the explanation of the otherwise pointless phrase of the 
Johannine Jesus (John iv, 22) to the Samaritan woman, 
" Ye worship that which ye know not what." And all 
the ideas converge in the phrases in the Acts (viii, 9-10), 
that Simon claimed to be " some great one " {eavrov 
/Lceyav) and was spoken of as '' that power of God which 
is called Great." In fine, Simon Magus, the Mage, is 
just a version of Simon Megas, Great Simon. 

^ McClintock and Strong's Bib. Cycl. s. v. 

2 1 Samuel xxviii, 13. ^1 Kings xvi, 24. 

* Die Religion Jesu, as cited. ^ 12 Antiq. v, 5. 



252 APPENDIX B 



We know from their version of the Pentateuch that 
the later Samaritans, being strong '' monotheists " in one 
of the senses of that elastic and misleading term, sought 
always to substitute angels for Elohim in the old narra- 
tives of divine action (e,g. Gen. iii, 5; v, 1; v, 24; 
xvii, 22), '' lest a corporeal existence should be attributed 
to the Deity." ^ And it is instructive to note how their 
theological drift exhibits itself in early Christism. The 
doctrine of the '' Logos " is not merely Alexandrian- 
Christian, it is Judaic. Some of the Aramaic paraphrasts 
of the Old Testament at times wrote '' the Word of 
Jehovah " instead of the angel of Jehovah, sometimes 
the '* She-kin-ah," which means " the abode of the 
Word of Jehovah." ^ On the other hand, we know 
from the Gospel of Peter that one of the early Christian 
sects regarded Jesus as having received his dynamis, his 
power, at baptism, and yielded it up at crucifixion. 
Here we are close to Samaritanism, in which the angels 
were regarded ^ as " uncreated influences proceeding 
from God (dynameis, powers)," pretty much as Simon is 
described in the Acts. Thus '' Simon " for the Samari- 
tans would just be " ^fcl," which the Samaritan Justin, 
like the writer of ** Peter," held to mean " Power." 
And at the same time, be it observed, Simon was *' the 
Word." 

But still the proof abounds. In Lucian's account of 
the Syrian Goddess we are told ^ that in the temple at 
Byblos there was a statue, apparently epicene or double- 
sexed, called by some Dionysos, by others Deucalion, and 
by others Semiramis, but to which the Syrians gave no 
speciflc name, calling it only Semeion, a word which in 
Greek properly means ''sign," but may mean image. 
There can be little doubt that Movers ^ was right in 
surmising this statue to be just the primordial Sem or 
Sem-on, the Great Sem of the Semitic race. The two- 
sexed character is in perfect keeping with the ideal 

1 G. L. Bauer, Theol. of the Old Teat., Eng. tr,, 1837, p. 5; Etheridge, 
The Targums on the Pentateuch, i (1862), introd., pp. 5, 14, VI. 

2 Bauer and Etheridge, as cited. 

3 Gieseler, Com/p. of Ec. Hist., Eng. tr., i, 48. 

* De Dea Syria, c. 33. * Die Phonizier, i, 417, 634. 



APPENDIX B 253 



duality of the old Assyrian Nature-Gods ; ^ and the 
peculiar detail of the name which was not a name brings 
us again to the Sem-on of the Samaritans. 

Everything in the Christian legend falls in with this 
identification. The Fathers ^ tell us of one Helen, a 
prostitute from Tyre, with whom Simon went about, and 
whom he gave out to be a reincarnation of Helen of Troy, 
and also his " Thought." Helen is almost unquestion- 
ably, as Baur ^ surmised, the Selene or Luna of the old 
sun-cultus. In the paragraph following his account of 
the Semeion, Lucian tells us that in the forepart of the 
same temple stands the throne of Helios, but without a 
statue ; Helios and Selene, the sun and moon, being the 
only divinities not sculptured in the temple — though he 
goes on to mention that behind the throne is a statue of 
a clothed and bearded Apollo, quite different from the 
Greek form. Here, again, we have a mystic conception 
of the Sun-God, a conception necessarily confusing to 
ordinary visitors, even supposing the priests themselves 
to have had any consistent ideas about it ; and the 
fact ^ that the temple further contained among other 
statues one of Helena (herself an old Moon-Goddess), 
gave ample opportunity for the usual mythological 
variants. Thus it came about that while Justin and 
Irenseus connect Simon Magus with Helen, Irenseus says 
the Simonians have " an image of Simon in the likeness 
of Jupiter, and of Helen in that of Minerva ' ' — a curious 
statement, which at once recalls that of Lucian ^ that 
the Here of the temple of By bios " has something of 
Athene and Aphrodite, of Selene and Rhea, of Artemis, 
of Nemesis, and of the Parcse." This again squares 
with the fact that in the Chaldeo-Babylonian system 
Samas was associated with the goddess Gula, " triform as 
personating the moon, and sometimes replaced by a group 
of three spouses of equal rank, Malkit, Gula, and Animit." ® 
And in the Latin translation by Rufinus of the pseudo- 

^ Lenormant, as cited, p. 129. 

2 Justin, Apol. i, 26 ; Irenseiis, i, 23, § 2 ; Tertullian, De Anima, 34. 

3 Die christliche Gnosis^ 1835, p. 309. 
* De Dea Syria, 40. 

^ Id. 32. ® Lenormant, as cited, p. 117. 



254 APPENDIX B 



Clementine " Recognitions," for Helena we actually, have 
Luna. 

The chain is complete. We are dealing not with a 
historic person or persons, but with an ancient cult, 
which Christian ignorance and Judaic " monotheism " 
between them strove to reduce somehow to a historical 
narrative, as the myths of Abraham and Samson and 
Israel and Elijah and a dozen others had been reduced, 
as the mythic ritual had been in the gospels, and as 
indeed the rituals of Paganism had been in the current 
pagan mythologies. There was no Samaritan Simon the 
Mage, who met a Christian Peter ; it was not a preaching 
Simon who taught of himself, but the Samaritan popu- 
lace who traditionally believed of their God Sem or 
Simon, that " he appeared among the Jews as the Son, 
while in Samaria he descended as the Father, and in the 
rest of the nations he came as the Holy Spirit'' ^ The 
parallel holds down to the last jot. The Semeion of the 
temple of Byblos had a dove on his head,^ and there are 
abundant Jewish charges as to the worship of a dove 
by the Samaritans at Mount Gerizim ; ^ so that Simon 
was the Logos receiving the Holy Spirit, the dynamis, just 
as Jesus did in the Gospels ; and the Christists' doctrine 
that the Holy Spirit should be given to the nations is 
simply an adaptation of the Samaritan syncretism, which 
they sought to override by a syncretism of their own 
in their latest gospel, where it comes out that their 
Galilean Jesus was called a Samaritan by Jews,* a charge 
which curiously enough he does not dispute, denying 
only that he has " a daimon." This is exactly the myth 
of Simon turned into a story of an incarnate Messiah, 
who affirms his reality.^ Well might the Fathers call 
their imaginary '' Simon " the Father of all heresies. 

^ Irenseus, as cited. ^ Lucian, as cited. 

3 Reland, Dissertat. Miscellan., Pars i, 1706, p. 147; cp. Enc. Bib. 
art. Samaritans, 4a. The dove was everywhere regarded in Syria 
as sacred, in connection with the myth of Semiramis (Diodorus, ii, 4), 
which bears so closely on the name Samaria. 

* John viii, 48. 

^ Mem. the aged Simeon of Luke ii, who blessed the child Jesus. 
" The Holy Spirit was upon him " (v. 25). With him is associated 
Anna the Prophetess. Cp. Hannah, mother of Samuel. 



APPENDIX B 255 



He was the " Father " in a sense of their own creed, as 
well as of all the Gnosticisms into which it broke. 



II • 

What hinders ordinary students from accepting Baur's 
view of the '' Clementine " Simon, which we have here 
sought to support, is the existence of the fragments of 
writings attributed to Simon, together with the circum- 
stantialities of the story in the Acts and the Fathers. 
But these circumstantialities are just the marks of all the 
ancient myths, Jewish, Christian, and Gentile; and the 
attribution of writings to Simon Magus no more proves 
his historical existence than the same process proves the 
historical existence of Orpheus and Moses. ^ The frag- 
ments and paraphrases preserved by the Fathers are just 
part of the mass of ancient Occultism ; and their con- 
nection with the name of Simon the Mage is merely a 
variation of the Jewish myth which attributes the author- 
ship of the Zohar to Simon Ben Jochai, a mythical or 
mythicised personage if ever there was one. He is fabled 
to have lived in a cave for twelve years, studying the 
Cabbala, during which time he was visited by Elias. At 
his death fire was seen in the cave, and a voice from 
heaven was heard saying, '' Come ye to the marriage of 
Simon Ben Jochai : he is entering into peace, and shaU 
rest in his chamber." At his burial there was heard a 
voice crjdng, '' This is he who caused the earth to quake 
and the kingdoms to shake." ^ Simon is said to have 
belonged to the first century of the Christian era ; while 
the Zohar is held to have been composed in the 13th 
century .3 In all probability the matter of the Zohar is 
largely ancient ; and the association of it (as of the 
Shema or Shemoneh Eareh prayer) with the name Simon 
points distinctly to a traditional vogue of the name in 

1 Professor Smith, who accepts the historicity of Simon {Ecce Deus, 
pp. 11, 103) does so without noting that it has been challenged. It 
would be interesting to have his grounds for discriminating between 
the God and the man. 

2 McClintock and Strong's Bib. Cyc. 

3 Kuenen, Religion of Israel, Eng. tr., iii, 314. 



256 APPENDIX B 



Semitic Gnosticism. But there is no more reason to 
believe that an actual Simon composed the Zohar, or the 
" Great Denial " (perhaps = antinomy) attributed to 
Simon the Mage, than to believe in the above stories of 
the voices from heaven and those of the miracles of the 
Mage in the Acts. The Talmudic legends clearly point 
to a sun myth, bringing Simon into connection with 
Elias, Eli-jah, an unquestionable Sun-God, who com- 
bines the names El and Jah, though reduced by the 
Judaic Evemerising monotheists to the rank of a judge- 
prophet, as was Samu-el, and as Sams-on was made a 
" judge." It lay in the essence of ancient religiosity to 
do this, and at the same time to seek to father all its 
documents on sacrosanct names. That a real Samaritan 
Simon of the first century should write a new occultist 
book and publish it as his own, is contrary to the whole 
spirit of the time. Only centuries after the period of its 
composition could such a book be attributed to an 
ordinary human author by those who accepted it. If it 
was current in the first century, it must have been either 
fathered on an ancient and mythical Simon or regarded 
as a book of the mysteries of the God Simon. The 
opinions or statements of the Christian Fathers con- 
cerning it are quite worthless save as embodying a 
name -tradition . 

Ill 

There remains to be considered the theory of the 
Tiibingen school that the Christian legend of Simon 
Magus is to be found in its earliest form in the ** Clemen- 
tines," that body of early sectarian forged literature 
which has been made to yield so much light as to the 
early history of the Christist Church. Here, in a set of 
writings (" Recognitions " and " Homilies," of which 
books one is a redaction of the other), purporting to be 
by Clement of Rome, we have a propaganda that is on 
the face of it strongly Petrine, and that turns out on 
analysis to be strongly anti-Pauline, though the gist of 
the matter is a series of disputations between Peter and 
Simon the Mage. It is impossible at present to settle 



APPENDIX B 257 



what was the first form of these documents, which as 
they stand bear marks of the third century, and survive 
only in the Latin translation of Rufinus (d. 410) ; but it 
is plain that they preserve elements of the early Ebionitic 
or Judseo -Christian opposition to the Gentile Christism 
of Paul. The Tiibingen theory is that under the name 
of Simon Magus Paul is attacked throughout. This, at 
first sight, certainly seems a fantastic thesis ; but an 
examination of the matter shows that it is very strongly 
founded. A leading feature in the conduct of Simon 
Magus in the Clementines, as in the Acts, is his attempt 
to purchase apostleship with money. Now, this corre- 
sponds very closely with the act of Paul in bringing to 
Jerusalem a subsidy from the Western churches, an act 
which, on the part of one not recognised as an apostle, 
and exhibited in the Epistles as always on jealous terms ^ 
with the Jerusalem apostles, would naturally rank as an 
attempt to purchase the Holy Ghost with lucre. Again, 
Simon Magus in the Clementines claims to rest his 
authority on divine visions, which is exactly the position 
of Paul ; ^ and Peter denies that visions have such 
authority. Once recognise the primary strife between 
Judaising and Gentilising Christians, of which there are 
so many traces in New Testament and Patristic literature, 
and it is easy to see that these are the very points on 
which the anti-Paulinists would most bitterly oppose 
Paul and his movement. In the Clementines, Peter not 
only opposes the Magus in Palestine, but follows him to 
Rome, thus carrying the antagonism between the two 
. sects over the whole theoretic field. The fact that both 
\ Simon Peter and Simon Magus, Cephas and Paul, are 
i made to journey from East to West, and to die in the West, 
I like the immemorial Sim-God, is suggestive^. 

That the Judaists should give Paul a symbolical name, 
again, was quite in keeping with the usual dialectic of the 
time, in which Rome, for instance, figured as '' Babylon," 
the typical great hostile city of Jewish remembrance. 
Just as Babylon symbolised heathen oppression, Samaria 

1 1 Cor. XV, 10; 2 Cor. xi, 13, 23; Gal. i, 7; ii, 11. 

2 1 Cor. XV, 9; 2 Cor. xii, 4; Gal. i, 12. 



258 APPENDIX B 



typified heathen heresy, the divergence from the Jewish 
cult in a heathen direction. Such divergence was the 
Judaist gravamen against Paul, who broke away from 
the law ; and as Simon, Semo, typified Samaritan heresy 
in general, it was peculiarly suited to the arch-heretic 
who sought to overthrow the supreme privilege of Jeru- 
salem. Simon was the Samaritan " false Christ," and 
Paul's preaching falsified the Judaic Christ.^ And nothing 
is more remarkable in the matter than the way in which 
the plainly patched-up reconciliatory narrative of the 
Acts squares with this theory. The book of Acts is 
explicable only on the hypothesis that it was designed, 
in its final form, to reconcile the long-opposed sects by 
reconciling Peter and Paul in a quasi-Mstorical narrative. 
The narrative plainly clashes with Paul's alleged Epistles. 
For the rest, it is managed largely on the plan of dupli- 
cating the exploits of the two heroes, so that Paul con- 
futes Elymas as Peter does Simon, and closely duplicates 
one of Peter's miracles.^ Some legends were in existence 
to start with, and others were invented to match them. 
Similarly the dispute between Paul and Barnabas at 
Antioch was to supersede the strife there between Paul 
and Peter.^ If then the composer of the Acts had 
before him a legend of Peter confuting Simon the Mage, 
it would suit him to retain it, since thus would he best 
dissociate the Mage from Paul. But, as Zeller points 
out, he is careful, first of all, to place the story of the 
Mage before Paul's conversion ; and at the same time 
he shows he knows the original significance of the charge 
against Simon Magus as to offering money, by ignoring 
the most important of Paul's subsidies.^ 

The application of a great mass of the polemic against 
Simon Magus in the Clementines is so obvious that the 

1 Even a late copyist or reader of one of the Clementine MSS. con- 
fusedly recognised a hostility to Paul as underlying his text. See 
Anti-Nicene Lib. trans., Recog. i, 70. 

2 Acts iii, 1-12, etc. ; xiv, 8-15, etc. 
8 Gal. ii, 11-14. 

* See the whole data discussed in Baiu-, Ch, Hist, of the First Three 
Cent., Eng. tr., i, 91-98, etc.; Paul, Eng. tr., i, 88, 96, etc.; Zeller, 
Contents cmd Origin of the Acts, Eng. tr., i, 260 sq. ; Volkmar, Die 
Religion Jesu ; Schmiedel, art. Simon Magus in Encyc. Bib. 



APPENDIX B 259 



evasion of the problem by Hamack and Salmon and 
others on futile pleas of " false appearances " and 
" common-sense " is simply a confession of defeat. 
Baur's case, after being dismissed on pretexts of " common- 
sense " by those who could not meet it, is irresistibly re- 
stated by Schmiedel, on a full survey of its development 
by Lipsius and others. The only solution is, that the 
Clementines adapt for new purposes a mass of old anti- 
Pauline matter. At the time at which they were redacted, 
Paul had been established as a "catholic " figure; and 
there could be no such hatred to him as breathes through 
the fierce impeachments of the teaching of the Paulines 
in the Recognitions and Homilies. For it is at the 
Epistles that the bulk of the attacks are directed. What 
has been done is to use up, for a new polemic with heretics, 
a quantity of old anti-Pauline literature in which the 
disguising of Paul under the name of Simon Magus 
probably blinded the redactors to its purpose. For 
them Simon was simply the arch-heretic, and it was 
against his detested memory and persisting influence 
that they operated. 

The theory is no doubt a complicated one ; but when 
taken in its full extent, as recognising the addition of the 
heresy of the Gnostic Paulinist Marcion to that of Paul, it 
is perfectly consistent with the documents ; and there is 
really no other view worth discussing, as regards the 
connection of Simon Magus with Peter. The orthodox 
belief that Simon was an actual Samaritan who suddenly 
persuaded the people of Samaria to regard him as a 
divine incarnation, as told in the Acts, will not explain 
the mass of identities in the Clementines between the 
teaching ascribed to him and the actual Pauline Epistles. 
In explaining the choice of the name Simon for Paul by 
his Judaic antagonists, the myth-theory is far more 
helpful than the view of Simon's historicity. A '' false 
God " Simon, the God of the typically misbelieving 
Samaritans, would be by Jews reduced to human status 
as a matter of course, unless he were simply classed as a 
" daimon." A '' Simon the Mage " was for them just 
the type they wanted wherewith to identify Paul, the 
new False Teacher. To identify, on the other hand, a 



260 APPENDIX B 



contemporary or lately deceased Paul with a contem- 
porary or lately deceased Simon would be an idle device, 
missing the end in view. The name of such a Simon 
would for purposes of aspersion be worth little or nothing. 
The name had to be a widely and long notorious one, and 
the myth supplied it. 

IV 

In conclusion, let it be noted that the bearing of the 
myth of Simon Magus on Christianity is not limited to 
the explanation of the Samaritan origins and the elucida- 
tion of the Paul-and-Peter antagonism. The more the 
matter is looked into, the more reason is seen for sur- 
mising that Samaria played a large part in the beginnings 
of the Christian system. Samaria seems to have been 
beyond all other parts of Palestine a crucible in which 
manifold cult-elements tended to be fused by syncretic 
ideas ; and the extent to which Samaria figures in the 
fourth gospel is a phenomenon not yet adequately ex- 
plained. The fact that Jesus is there said to have been 
called a Samaritan reminds us that among the movements 
of the *' false Christs " so often alluded to in the Gospels ^ 
a Samaritan cult of the mystic Christ may have counted 
for much. The fourth gospel itself would come under 
the anti-Pauline ban, inasmuch as, while Simon Magus 
is said to have sought to substitute Mount Gerizim for 
Jerusalem, Jesus here ^ is made to set aside both the 
Samaritan mountain and Jerusalem. The very fact that 
the Samaritan woman professedly expects the coming of 
Messiah, is a hint that the story of the well and the 
living water may be of Samaritan Messianic origin. 
Nay more, since we know that the Samaritans in par- 
ticular laid stress on the Messiah Ben Joseph rather than 
on the Messiah Ben David, they regarding themselves as 
of Josephite descent^ it is probable that the very legend 
of Jesus being the putative son of one Joseph, which we 
know was absent from the Ebionite version of Matthew, 
was framed to meet the Samaritan view. These matters 
are still far from having been exhaustively considered. 

1 Cp. 2 Cor. xi, 4. ^ John iv, 21. 



INDEX 



AARON, 81 

Abraham and Isaac, myth of, 34, 81, 149 , 

Aceldama, 40 

Achilles, 13, 86 

Acts, book of, 88, 91, 141 

Acts of Pilate, 101 

Adonis, 18, 20, 37, 73, 80, 82, 145, 215 

Adversary, the, 219 

Agapae, 168 

Ahnman, 150 

Alcander, 231 

Allah, 19, 81 

Allegory in the gospels, 164 

Almsgiving, 164 sq. 

Ananias and Sapphira, 169 sg.^ 231 n. 

Angel of the Lord, 83, 85, 262 

Anointing, the, 49 

Antigonus, 52 n. 

Antioch, 89, 175 

Apocalypse, the, 92 sq.^ 108, 173 sq. 

Apocryphal gospels, 210 n., 217 

Apollonius of Tyana, 17 

Apollos, 90 

Apostles, order of, 131, 169, 203 

the Twelve, 89 sq., 92, 126 sq, 

Aretas, 141 n. 
Aristides, 153 
Artemis, 20 
Ascension, the, 23, 26 
Asceticism, 185 
Ass, the mythical, 43 sq. 
Attis, 18, 20, 37, 73, 145 

Babylonian religion, 64, 93, 110, 174, 175, 

219, 283 
Bacchus, 44 sq. See Dionysos 
Banos, 122, 126 
Baptism, Jesuist, 90, 137 sq. 
Barabbas myth, the, 27, 32 sq., 37, 40 sg., 

88,104,136 
Sarnahas, Epistle of, 132 sq., 235 
Saruch, Apocalypse of, 138, 182 
Batak crucifixion, 62 
Bauer, Bruno, 2 
Baur, F. 0., 248 
Beaufort, L. de, 5 
Betrayal, myth of, 40 
Bhagavat Gita, 13, 20 n, 
Birrell, 224 
Bishops, 167 sq., 203 
Blass, 10 

Brandt, 43, 106 n. 
Bread, broken, 170 n 
Bryennios, 235 



261 



Buddha, 19, 218 
Budge, Dr., 234 
BurMtt, Prof., 114 

Oanoeb, the zodiacal sign of, 45 

Cannibal sacraments, 36 

Carpenter, Dr. J. E., 209, 231 n., 234 

Oassels, 24, 132 

Causse, 150 n. 

Cephas, 135 

Cermthus, 207 

Charles, Canon, cited, 229 

Cheetham, Canon, cited, 31 

Oheyne, 114, 131 

Child-God, the, 93 

Chrestos, the epithet, 108 

Ohrestus, 108 

Christmas, 209 

Christopher, St., 217 

Circumcision, 95, 141 

Clementines, the, 256 sq. 

Clergy, attitude of, to myth-theory, 222 

ComTminism, alleged Christian, 169 

Oomtism, 4 

Oonder, Col., 68 sq. 

Conrady, 210 n. 

Oonybeare, Dr. F. C, 12, 14, 25, 44 sq., 64 n., 
66 n., 67 sq., 74 n., 78 sg., 84 n., 85 n., 86 sg.^ 
91 n., 103 sq., 134 n., 178 n., 183, 209, 
211 sq., 217 71., 218 n. 

Cross, the, 42, 61 sq. 

Crowns, in sacrifice, 52 sg. 

Crucifixion, the, 31 sg., 41 sq., 50 sg. 

Cyrus, 65 

Daimons, the word, 72, 152 ; beUef in, 152 

David, 81, 87 

Lidachi, the, 31, 108, 131 sg., 160 sg., 170 sg., 

235 sg. 
Dionysos, 18, 19, 37, 45, 63, 79, 81, 219, 220 
Docetism, 194, 207 
Drama in Jewry, 74 

Drews, Prof., 2, 22, 24, 65, 84 n., 224, 228 
Dujardin, 149 
Dupuis, 2, 174 
Durkheim, 46 n. 
Dying Gods, 18, 73, 82, 189 

BA, 110 

Easter, 42 

" Eating the God," 36 

Ebionites, the, 112 sq., 190 sq. 

Ecclesice, 163 sq. 

Economic causation, 157 sg. 



262 



INDEX 



El Elyon, 81, 249 
Elymas, 258 
Snoch, Book of, 109, 182 
Ephesus, 90, 175 
Epistles, making of, 176 sg. 
Essenes, 75 n., 167 
Eucharist, 31, 171 
Eusebius, 182 sq, 
Evemerism, 16, 81 
Ewald, 55 n. 

Festivals, Jewish, 41 sg. 

Fish, the Divme, 44 sq. 

Four Gospels as Historical Records^ The^ 28 

Franciscans, the, 158 

Frazer, Sir J. G.. 41, 50, 54, 73, 145 

Galilee, 74, 82, 208 
Gnosticism, 110, 154, 207 
Goat-God, the, 219 
God-makmg, 18, 202 
God-names, 77 sq., 202, 213 
Golgotha, 40 sq., 68 
Good Shepherd, the, 218 
Gordon, A., 236 sq., 241 

General, 69 

Gospels, composition of, 7 sq,, 182 sq* 
Guilds, Greek, 163 sq. 
Gimkel, 55 

HAilNAH, 210 

Hatch, 162 sq. 

Hamack, 8 

Harris, Dr. Bendel, cited, 109 sq., 229 n. 

Haupt, E., 127 n. 

Healing, myths of, 81 sq., 207 sq. 

Hebrew monotheism, 76 sq., 116 sq., 149 sq. 

Hebrews, Epistle to the, 168, 177 

Oospel o/, 184 

Helen, 253 

Herakles, 18, 20, 21, 48 

Herford, R. T., 38, 116 n. 

Hermas, 108, 168 

Hermes, 63 

Herod, trial of Jesus before, 28, 103 

Hierapolia, 63, 146 

Hitchcock and Brown, 236 sq. 

Hobbes, 159 n. 

HofEmann, A., 228 n. 

Homer, myth in, 13 

iCONOGRAPmo myth, 46, 217, 218 n. 

leoud, 34, 52 

Inarus, 54 

Inge, Dean, 12, 150 n. 

Isaac, myth of, 34, 42, 215 n 

Isaiah, authorship of, 65 

Israel, Father, 34 

Jacob, myth of, 45, 81 
James, Dr. M. K., 133 
James, the gospel, 135 

Epistle of, 169, 176 

Janus, myth of, 218 
Japanese sacrifice, 35 
Jephthah, myth of, 34 
Jerusalem, 68, 195 
Jesuism, elements in, 107 sq., 187 
Jesus of Zechariah, the. 111 
Jesus Barabbas, 32 sq 



" Jesus the Son," 38 

Jesus, the Talmudic, 17, 112, 129, 250 

Jesuses in Josephus, 125 sq. 

Jesus-God, the pre-Ohristian, 81 5g., 91 sq., 
174 sq. 

Jesus, of the Gospels, trials of, 28, 51 ; latest 
biographical view of, 30; entry of, into 
Jerusalem, 32, 43 sg. ; crucifixion of, 26 sg. 
31 sq., 60 sg., 61 sq.; anointing of, 49; 
burial of, 67 sq.; healing by name of, 
91 sq., 151 ; as the One God, 107 sq. ; a 
God, in Mark, 13, 187 ; as Messiah, 64 sg. ; 
of the Apocalypse, 174 

Jevons, P. B., cited, 31 n. 

Jews, culture evolution of, 74 sq. ; ecclesias- 
tical organisation of, 167 sg. 

John, Gospel of, 13, 96, 181, 187 sg., 205 sq. 

Epistles of, 177 

John the Baptist, 90, 92, 136, 187 

the Theologian, 173 

Joseph, myth of, 81, 215 sq., 260 

Josephus, 121 sq. 

Joshua, 81, 82 sq., 94 sq., 211 

Judas the Galilean, 123 sg. 

Judas Iscariot, 40, 105, 158, 217 n. 

Jude, Epistle of, 93 sq., 168, 169 

Justin Martyr, 117 sq., 196, 248 sq 

KAira, 223 

Xarabbas, 33 

Khonds, sacrifice among the, 35 sq., 54, 

Kings, sacrifices of, 34 

Krishna, 19, 209 n., 214, 216, 317 n. 

Kronos, 34, 52 

Lamb, the, 42, 174 sq. 

Lester, C. S., 28 sq., 33 n., 136 n. 

Logos, the, 63, 93, 116, 206 

Loisy, on the Pilate trial, 6, 51 ; and Dean 
Inge, 12 ; on invention, 21 ; on the cruci- 
fixion, 32; on Barabbas, 39, 51; on 
" Crucify him," 43 ; on the burial of Jesus, 
69 ; on the Twelve, 92 ; on the midnight 
trial, 99; on the Naassene hymn, 110; 
on the Samaritan passage, 200 ; on the 
myth-theory, 224 sq. 

Lord's Prayer, the, 133 sq., 171 sq. 

Lucian, 63, 145, 252 

Luke, Gospel of, 13, 102, 215, 216, 218 

Lyall, 18 

Lycurgus, 16, 231 

Maccabees, the, 64, 65 

McCabe, J., cited, 39 n. 

Madonnas, 213 

Maia, 214 

Malachi, 75 

Marduk, 110 

Mark, gospel of, 13, 174, 183, 187 sq., 215, 

218 sq. 
Mamas, 145 
Marsyas, 219 

Mary, the name, 112, 211 sq. 
Massebieau, 174 

Matthew, gospel of, 13, 173, 174, 183, 215 
Melch^edek, 81 
Merris, 213 
Messiah, doctrine of, 29 sg., 44, 56, 64 sg., 

109, 137 sq., 185, 216, 260 



INDEX 



263 



Metatron,».the, 83, 84, 85 

Mexico, sacrifice in, 35 sq. 

Meyer, ProtE., 16 

Michael, 85 

Middleton,221,223 

Minim, the, 116, 136 n. 

Miracles, 24; of healing, 207 Sff. 

of feeding, 220 

Miriam, 87, 112, 211 sq. 

Mithraism, 20, 21, 37, 73, 93 

Mock-King, the sacrificed, 43, 50 sq.^ 88 

Mohammed, 19 

Monotheism, 76 sq., 115 sq.fliS sq. 

Moses, 69, 81,83, 213 

Mosheim, 22 

Myrrha, 80 

Mystery- drajna, the, 37, 40, 73 sq,^ 96 sq., 
206 

Myth and ritual, 73 

Mythology, 46 

Myth-theory, development of, 1 sq., 14; pur- 
pose of, 5 ; difficulties of, 6, 22 ; adopted 
in parts by its opponents, 26, 29, 44, 
51; problems of, 2, 77 sq.; summary of, 
202 sg. 

MXTH-MOTIVES : — 

Annunciation, 25, 209 

Anointing, 49 

Ascension, 23, 26 

Baptism, 136 sq. 

Betrayal, 40 

Birthplace, 15, 114 

Casting lots for vesture, 61 

Christmas, 209 

Cross, the, 61 sq., 64 

Crucifixion, 31 sg., 41 sq., 50 sq» 

Feeding Five Thousand, 219 

Gall and vinegar, 69 

Garment without seam, 60 sq. 

Good Shepherd, 218 

Last Supper, 31, 37, 72 sq., 97 sq., 102, 

104, 179 sq. 
Leg-breaking, 57 sq. 
Manger, 209 

Menace of Herod, 209, 214 
Purifying the Temple, 48 sg. 
Resurrection, 70 sq. 
Bock-tomb, 67 sg. 
Spear-thrust, 60* 
Temptation, 218 sq. 
Trials, 26, 28, 99 
Triumphal Entry, 32, 43 sq. 
Twelve Apostles, 126 sq. 
Virgin Birth, 23, 195, 209 sg. 
Water turned into wine, 220 

NAMES of Gods, 77 sq. 

Nazaraeans, 111, 113 sg., 194 sq. 

Nazareth, problem of, 15, 93, 113, 114, 198 

Nazarites, 111, 113, 114 

Netzer, 111, 113 

Neumann, A., 192 

Newman, 16 

Nicholson, E. B., 184 

Nicolaitans, 175 

Niebuhr, 5 

Niemojewski, 41 n., 86 n. 

Odes of Solomon, the, 109 sq 
Oral hypothesis, 10 



Oi^anization, early Christian, 154, 157 sq,, 

162 sq. 
Origen, 48, 194, 248 n. 
Orthodoxy, 23, 24 
Osiris, 49, 62, 81 

PAINE, 223 

Pan, 218, 219 

Papias, 179, 183 sq. 

Passover, 33, 42 sq,, 63, 96 

Paton, W. R., 54 

Paul, problem of, 7, 63, 89, 115, 130, 139, 

140 sq., 144 sq., 161, 172 sq., 256 sq. 
Pentateuch, 5 

Persian religion, 64, 174, 175 
Personality, theory of Jesus', 13 sq., 61, 

146 sq., 170, 179, 181 , 196, 206 
Peter, legend of, 89, 141, 144, 218; Epistles 

of, 177, 256 sq. 
Petrie, Dr. W. F., 10, 11 
Pharisees, 89 
Philip, 89 

Philo Judffius, 116, 206 
Pilate, trial of Jesus before, 26 sq., 41 
Plutarch, on Solon, 16 
Polytheism, Hebrew, 77 
Prince of the Presence, 85 sg. 
Prometheus, 63, 63 
Prophets, 161, 169, 203 
Proselytism, 141 
Proteus, 218 
Purim, 41 sq. 
Pythagoras, 15, 17 

Reinaoh, S., 60 
Renan, 23, 30, 146 
Resurrection, the, 70, 180 
Rhodes, sacrfece at, 41, 62 
Rix, cited, 68 
Robinson, Canon, 137 
Roman sacrifice, 35 

SA02EA, the, 41sg.,44 
Sacraments, 31, 72 sq., 87, 88, 102, 193 
Sacred Books, 19 sg., 80, 151, 165, 166 
Sacrifice, theory and practice of, 33 s^. 
Sacrificed God, the, 20, 35, 106, See Dying 

Gods 
Samaria, Ohristism in, 89 sq., 93, 185-6, 197, 

205, 260 
Samaritan cults, 84, 89, 93, 117 sq., 216, 

239 sq. 
Samson, 81, 86, 249 
Sanday, Dr., 224 n, 
Sarah, 210 
Sargon, 214 
Satan, 150, 218 5?. 
Saturnalia, 34, 41 
Saviour Gods, 20, 63, 119, 193 
Schmiedel, 8 sq., 10, 23, 25, 178, 186, 188 sg., 

197, 208 sq., 226 sq., 259 
Schweitzer, 6 
Seeberg, cited, 133-4 
Second Coming, the, 196 sq. 
Selene, 263 
Sem, 117 sq. 
Semitic sacrifice, 33 sq. 
Sepulchre, the Holy, 68 sg., 196 
Sermon on the Mount, 15, 30, 133, 185, 

229 



264 



INDEX 



Seventy, mission of, 91 sq. 

Shakespeare, 99, 100, 103 

Shekinah, 252 

Silenus, 219 

Simon Magus, 117 sq.^ 248 sq. 

Simon Ben Jochai, 255 

Sincerity, religious, 158 

Smith, Prof., 10 

Smith, Prof . W. B., 2, 3, 13, 14, 21, 88, 91, 

189 n., 2Q7 sq. ; on rise of Jesus-cult, 107 sq., 

Ibl sq.; onthe^azar8ean5,113 
Smith, Prof. W. Eobertson, 31 n., 87 
Solomon, Q,, 124 5^. 
Solon, 15 sq. 

Soltau, cited, 209 n., 210 n., 215 n., 222 n. 
Son-Gods, 18, 80 
Souiy, 27 

Spence, Canon, 236 sq. 
Spirit, the Holy, 184 
Spitta, 176, 218 
Stigmata, 63 

Strange, Judge, cited, 65 
Strauss, 2, 10, 14, 23, 26 sq., 4 8, 54 
Suetonius, 108 
Suffering Messiah, the, 64 s 
Sun myth, 86, 219 
Supper, the Last, 31, 37, 72 sg., 97 sq., 102, 

104, 179 sg. 
Supreme Gods, 18 
Synods, 164 

Tacitus, 26 sq. 

Tammuz, cult of, 77, 215 

Taylor, Dr. C, 172, 236 

Teaching of the Twelve Apostles. See Didache 

Teaching God, the, 20 

Tennyson, 101 

Tertullian, 44 

Testaments of the Patriarchs, 139, 220, 229 sq. 

Tezcatlipoca, 21 

Theudas, 141 n. 

Thieves, the two, 53 sq. 



Thorbum, Dr. T. J., 5 n., 25, 209 n., 310 n, , 

216 71., 231 n. 
Totems, 86 

Tree, the sacred, 62, 63 
Trinity, doctrine of, 206 
Triple sacrifice, 54 
Two Ways, the, 132 sq. 
Twelve Apostles, myth of, 89 sq.^ 92, 126 sq. 
Twenty-four Counsellors, the, 93 

Ulysses, 86 
Una, 48 

Van Manen, 178 sq. 
Vedas, myths of, 79 

Virgin-Birth, the, 23, 24, 25, 195, 209 sq. 
VoUnnar, 105 n. 
Vohiey, 2 
Voltaire, 223 

Weiss, B., 9 n., 103 
Wellhausen, 14, 114 
Whittaker, T., 93, 150 «., 178 n. 
Williams, N. P., 224 n. 
Winckler, 87 

Wood, H. G., 7 sq.y 62 n., 99 sq. 
Wrede, 6 
Wright, Dr., 10, 11 

Tahweh, 19, 76, 79, 80, 87, 191 

ZakmUK, 42 
Zarathustra, 19, 218 
Zealots, 167 
Zeus and Dyaus, 78 

and Hgr5, 13 

and Pan, 219 

and Saturn, 115 

Zodiacal myth, 45, 62, 134 n., 174 sq 
Zohar, the, 255 
Zoroaster, 19, 218 



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